116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — As the omicron variant drives new COVID-19 cases to record numbers in Iowa, both Cedar Rapids hospitals continue to delay elective, non-emergency surgical procedures to preserve hospital capacity.
In December, following reports of alarming increases in hospitalization totals, Mercy Medical Center and UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital jointly announced they would postpone certain surgeries through Christmas.
A month later, as new infections continue to reach record levels, the Cedar Rapids hospitals are continuing to delay those procedures.
Mercy is delaying all elective, non-emergency procedures, hospital spokeswoman Karen Vander Sanden said.
St. Luke’s resumed some procedures after Christmas Day, but on a limited basis. The number of non-emergency cases is determined each week based on hospitalization rates, hospital spokeswoman Sarah Corizzo said.
Currently, St. Luke’s providers are performing 10 elective, nonemergent cases per week, she said.
The decision comes as the omicron, the new highly transmissible strain of the novel coronavirus, spreads rapidly throughout the state and the rest of the country.
On Monday, 32,732 positive tests were reported in the state in the past seven days, driving the 14-day positivity rate up to nearly 20 percent, according to the latest coronavirus data from the Iowa Department of Public Health. This past Monday, the 14-day positivity rate was 13.5 percent, state data shows.
Linn County Public Health reported more than 6,800 active cases of COVID-19 in the county Tuesday. In total, 53 patients were admitted to hospitals in Linn County for COVID-19 as of Tuesday.
Cedar Rapids hospital officials said last month their facilities were seeing higher COVID-19 patient admissions than the previous peak in the fall of 2020.
In addition, the two hospitals are reporting staffing challenges after dozens of staff members have called in sick in recent weeks, St. Luke’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dustin Arnold said Tuesday.
In addition, the workers are exhausted from fighting the virus for nearly two years, officials have said.
“The best way describe it, every day is a survival day,” Arnold said. “We’re just trying to get through every day, and we’re surviving, but every day is about survival.”
Health care officials continue to urge everyone who is unvaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine and for fully vaccinated individuals to get a booster shot when they are eligible.
They also emphasis the importance of everyone — even those who are fully vaccinated — wearing a mask in public settings and practicing social distancing.
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