The intensive care units of many Iowa hospitals — large and small — are again filling up with coronavirus patients and, just like last year, capacity is becoming a concern.

Heather Ries, chief nursing officer at Regional Medical Center in Manchester, says the hospital’s inpatient unit capacity fluctuates daily and leaders meet routinely to strategize over the facility’s needs.

“Contrary to some perceptions, COVID-19 is not an elderly person disease,” Ries says. “With the new delta variant that is circulating, younger people ranging from their mid-20s to 50s are getting sicker and sicker more quickly than with the previous strain of COVID-19. Seeing young people this sick is very difficult and trying for our team members.”

RMC is having difficulty transferring patients needing higher levels of care to larger facilities in surrounding cities, since those larger facilities are nearing capacity as well. Instead of transferring patients where they typically would to Cedar Rapids, Dubuque or Waterloo, RMC is sometimes having to transfer patients farther away to Des Moines or Mason City.

(By Janelle Tucker, KMCH, Manchester)