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Register journalist chronicles the crisis of hope inside an Iowa ICU

Talk of Iowa, hosted by Charity Nebbe

Iowa hospitals—particularly intensive care wards—have been off-limits for most newspapers and outlets. In her work capturing the human stories of the pandemic, one journalist pulls back the curtain to the pain, hope and crisis experienced by staff and patients during the COVID surge.

A year ago, the COVID-19 vaccine had not rolled out. But there was a sense that something better was coming for the hard-pressed health care providers working bedside every day. The rollout did come but a cocktail of misinformation and hesitancy had led to the United States of America's comparatively low vaccination rates.

"And then it felt like nothing happened," said Tamim Mahayni, an ICU director from Ames, Iowa.

On this episode of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe speaks with Courtney Crowder of the Des Moines Register about her work to capture the stories of frontline workers like Mahayni. A year ago, her seven-part series took usinside COVID-19's siege of an ICUand the hope a vaccine provided. A year later, Crowder revisited that ICU depicting the "crisis of hope" among those dealing directly with the pandemic.

More:Read Courtney Crowder's full story in the Des Moines Register here.

Then we hear from two doctors who were the subjects of Crowder's reporting.


  • Courtney Crowder, Iowa Columnist for the Des Moines Register and editor of Iowa Mourns, the Register’s collection of obituaries written to honor Iowans who have died from COVID-19
  • Dr. Tamim Mahayni, director of the ICU at Mary Greeley Medical Center
  • Dr. Dan Fulton, infectious disease specialist at Mary Greeley Medical Center
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa
Zachary Oren Smith is a reporter covering Eastern Iowa