Hospitals across Iowa are seeing overwhelming numbers of COVID-19 patients, while also dealing with understaffing and packed intensive care units.
In recent days, UnityPoint Health Trinity in Davenport had ICU beds available, but it didn’t have the ICU staff. Now, those beds are full, mostly with COVID patients, according to Toyosi Olutade, the hospital’s chief medical officer.
“We send someone out of the ICU, there’s probably two people waiting for a bed,” Olutade says. “Our staff, they have been fabulous. It’s impossible to describe what they’ve been going through, but we have seen a lot of resiliency. A lot of people that were working during the day, they’re now working at night because we have a shortage at night.”
He says there’s been no coronavirus transmission in the hospital, noting, his staff run a greater risk of catching COVID-19 in the grocery store than they do in the ICU.
“For every person that gets infected, that person is likely to infect four or five other people,” he says. “This is very different from the flu, where it would take two people to get one person infected. This is the other way around, so it is very contagious.”
The number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU at the Quad Cities’ Genesis Health System doubled in the past week or so, while UnityPoint Health is seeing that same jump. COVID-19 patients also tend to stay in the ICU longer, so finding bedspace isn’t easy.
Olutade worries that a spike over the holidays could exhaust all available resources.
“Everyone will be affected. We’re not just talking about COVID patients. People who have a flare-up of their asthma may not get the care they need,” he says. “If we continue at this rate and with this trajectory, it is almost not sustainable.”
Olutade says everyone can help his staff and themselves by wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, and washing their hands.
(By Marianna Bacallao, WVIK, Rock Island)