Despite rising COVID-19 cases, Cedar Rapids hospitals are prepared

Iowa News

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – Most states are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases.  Cedar Rapids is one of the many Iowa communities grappling with rising case numbers.  Hospital leaders there say their facilities are better equipped than when the pandemic began.

“I can’t even stress the magnitude of the things that we know that we didn’t know,” said Dustin Arnold, chief medical officer at UnityPoint Health.

UnityPoint Hospital is feeling much more prepared for a surge in cases than it did back in March when the coronavirus first started taking off. 

As local positive COVID-19 cases are continuing to rise, Arnold says he isn’t worried about the hospital being overwhelmed. 

“We’re status green on pharmacy, blood, personal protective equipment, every place we need to be we are doing well,” says Arnold.

He says the hospital first started to get back on its feet in May.  Now they have a better understanding of how the virus works, and although there’s no cure, they have ways to treat it. 

“We knew what to expect. We knew how to handle it. We’re giving convalescent plasma. We had Remdesivir at that time,” adds Arnold.

Early on, personal protective equipment, PPE was in short supply.

Now they have plenty.

Mercy Medical Center Dr. Tony Myers says both hospitals have even decreased ICU space which they had tripled at its peak. 

“While we decreased capacity, we still have double of what we normally have.  That would easily take care of a similar surge we saw in April,” said Dr. Tony Meyers, vice-president of medical affairs at Mercy Medical Center.

Despite their confidence in handling cases, doctors say they’d prefer people don’t catch the virus. 

The majority of the recent rise in cases has been amongst 18- to 25-year-olds.  But Dr. Meyers says he expects to see a bigger impact within a few weeks. 

“Now they’re younger people, but eventually the people who are at most risk, the older people and people with medical conditions, will get exposed if the community continues to surge.” adds Meyer.

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