CORONAVIRUS

Cedar Rapids hospitals suspend elective procedures

New measure part of effort to preserve staff capacity

UnityPoint - St Luke's Hospital employees gather for a walk-through of the emergency department, which includes a new sc
UnityPoint — St Luke’s Hospital employees gather for a walk-through of the emergency department, which includes a new screening shed, outside the emergency entrance at the hospital in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, April 7, 2020. The shed will be used to screen patients with mild to moderate respiratory symptoms as part of the ER triage process. Health care workers on Tuesday walked through the new patient flow as they prepared for anticipated high patient volumes due to coronavirus. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
/

CEDAR RAPIDS — In light of the surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations statewide, both Cedar Rapids hospitals said Thursday they will reduce certain elective procedures to preserve staff capacity.

Mercy Medical Center and UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital jointly announced their officials have begun reducing surgical cases that require a hospital stay, a measure that will remain until Nov. 20.

In addition, providers will not schedule elective procedures that require an overnight, postoperative bed at the hospitals until after Nov. 20.

The measure — part of the hospitals’ coronavirus surge plans that have not been enacted since this spring — is an effort “to preserve staffing needs as local hospitals address the surge of COVID-19 admissions.”

“This joint approach is in place to ensure that the hospitals can maintain sufficient bed, staffing and PPE capacity, which is necessary to ensure the community has adequate resources to care for all patients,” officials stated.

COVID-19 hospitalizations across the state reached another record high Thursday, climbing to 1,208 total patients. Of those, 215 were in intensive care units and 101 were on ventilators.

Over the past few weeks, local experts have warned the public that Iowa’s hospitals could be overwhelmed if the number of positive cases continues to rise at its current pace. While officials have expressed confidence that hospitals have enough bed space and an adequate supply of protective gear and other necessary equipment, they have also expressed concern about their staff’s ability to meet all patients’ needs, including those who are not infected by COVID-19.

The state’s largest hospital, the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, enacted similar measures this past week.

At a meeting Thursday of Johnson County government and health officials, Dr. Steve Scheckel, chief medical officer for Mercy Iowa City, said the hospital, like the UIHC, is doing what it can to increase intensive care bed capacity, and that includes restricting elective surgeries.

UnityPoint Health-Waterloo also is suspending elective surgeries that require an inpatient bed until Nov. 27.

Cedar Rapids hospital officials could not say how many surgeries or procedures will be rescheduled as a result of the measure, since the cases are being assessed on a daily basis.

Patients affected by the change will be contacted by their surgeon, according to the announcement.

The announcement noted both hospitals are following criteria from the American College of Surgeons to evaluate specific surgical cases and to prioritize those that are urgent or an emergency.

Officials also emphasized the hospitals in Cedar Rapids are continuing to accept and treat patients, and urges residents to seek out care if they have a medical emergency.

Walk-in clinics and primary care offices are also open and continue to provide non-urgent medical care.

Comments: (319) 398-8469; michaela.ramm@thegazette.com

Support our coverage

Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please subscribe. Your subscription will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

Support our coverage

Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please subscribe. Your subscription will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.