© 2022 Iowa Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Health Care Leaders Urge Iowans To Follow Public Health Recommendations Amid Surging COVID-19 Hospitalizations

Hush Naidoo
More than 170 health care workers in Iowa have signed a statement urging Iowans to follow public health recommendations as COVID-19 hospitalizations surge.

More than 170 health care leaders have signed a statement urging Iowans to follow public health recommendations as new coronavirus cases surge in the state.

More than 170 Iowa health care workers have signed a statement urging Iowans to follow public health recommendations to slow the spread of COVID-19. This comes as the rate of new infections and hospitalization has more than doubled in the past month.

The joint statement was released by the Iowa Hospital Association’s physician leadership group and the Iowa Organization for Nursing Leadership. It urges Iowans to avoid crowds, stay home if they are sick and wear a mask.

"In recent weeks, we have seen COVID-19 cases trending upward statewide and hospitalizations have more than doubled in the past month. This alarming increase puts our entire health care workforce at risk," the statement reads.

"If these trends continue, physicians, nurses and support staff who have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic since March will suffer additional stress and risk infection, illness and death."

At a press call hosted by the Iowa Hospital Association on Tuesday, Tammy Chance, the medical director of quality initiatives at Boone County Hospital, said it was "really scary" last week when when her region was down to just a two or three ICU beds on several occasions.

She said her hospital has faced critical staffing shortages related to the virus.

“We have folks new in health care and those who've been around for decades who are astounded by the amount of death and serious morbidity they are dealing with on a daily basis," Chance said.

Chance said her goal in the summer was to get people to follow precautions so they could spend the holidays with family.

"I know this sounds morbid, but now my goal is to get people to take this seriously," she said. "So they don't have an extra grave to visit of a close friend or loved one come next Memorial Day."

Michael McCoy, the chief medical officer with Great River Health in West Burlington said his hospital’s biggest challenge has been finding enough staff to take care of COVID-19 patients. He said 97 hospital employees were out Monday because they were either sick with the virus or needed to quarantine.

"We've already stopped doing a lot of our elective surgeries, almost all of them, not because of beds, but because we needed to pull staff from that area," he said.

Jennifer Nutt, the vice president of nursing and clinical services at the Iowa Hospital Association, said the increase in hospitalizations are starting to strain the state's entire health care system.

“A common pattern that we're starting to see is as our smaller hospitals are needing to transfer patients to higher level of care due to the patient's acuity level, we also have our larger hospitals, now starting to transfer less acute, healthier patients down to the smaller hospitals to make room," she said.

Hospitalizations have more than doubled in Iowa in the last month as the state continues to see record levels of new infections.

As of Tuesday, more than 1,300 Iowans were hospitalized with the virus with more than 270 in the ICU.

The statement asks that Iowans:

  • Avoid crowds and gatherings.
  • Cover your mouth when you cough.
  • Stay at least 6 feet apart.
  • Stay home if you are experiencing any respiratory or unexplained symptoms, such as a fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, loss of taste or smell, or other common COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Wear a mask.
  • Get a flu shot.