Hospitals race as virus cases continue to rise

Brett Bachtle
Updated: October 16, 2020 08:02 PM
Created: October 16, 2020 06:35 PM

(ABC 6 News) - Some experts predicted a fall surge of COVID-19, and it may be happening. As case numbers rise, so are hospitalizations.

Intensive care unit beds have also started to fill up. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the state reached a record level of patients in the ICU with COVID-19 this week.


In recent weeks, Iowa has also dealt with record numbers of hospitalizations.

MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center holds 228 hospital beds. Since the start of the pandemic, 25 of those have been routinely set aside for COVID-19 patients.

On Friday, 180 beds were being occupied, of those, 23 were COVID-19 patients.

The ICU at MercyOne North Iowa holds 18 patients. 8 to 12 of those beds are routinely flexed for COVID-19 patients.

"We haven't got to the point where all the 25 have been filled. We've gotten close. Last week, we were at 30 in total. We had about 24 on our acute unit and we had 6 in the ICU. Our high has been 30. That kind of broke a record last week,” said MercyOne North Iowa President Rod Schlader.

Last week, outbreaks at nursing homes across north Iowa contributed to a record number of hospitalizations for the medical center. Through treatments at the acute care level, the hospital was able to keep many patients out of the ICU and off ventilators.

"Our ICU numbers haven't been as high as originally projected thank goodness because that really puts a lot of pressure on how many vents you have, how much PPE you have,” Schlader said.

However, last week’s events still worried the hospital. Although cases have slowed this week, they're now preparing for their phase two surge plan.

"We cleared out 8 more beds in our pediatric area and moved our peds patients to a four bed unit on our OB floor. We have that space ready and we're leaving that unfilled right now in case we have to surge more than our current capacity,” said Schlader.

Visitors are still prohibited from MercyOne North Iowa until the case average in their region is below 100 cases per 100,000 people per week. Currently, the rate is about 150 cases per week.

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