Hospitals concerned about upcoming flu season with limited beds because of COVID-19

Coronavirus Impacting Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa — MercyOne and UnityPoint Health are at capacity both in hospitalizations and ICU patients due to COVID-19.

Currently there are 624 patients hospitalized across the state due to the coronavirus. Unvaccinated patients make up 81.2% of those hospitalized and 84.7% of those in ICU. UnityPoint said that their percentage of unvaccinated patients is even higher than the state’s average.

“Most of them are unvaccinated,” Dr. Matt Trump, a Pulmonary and Critical Care Physician with UnityPoint Health said, “I think that it is more than 82%, it is probably around the mid-90s.”

Trump also mentioned that their COVID-19 patient levels are peaking in terms of numbers and that it has been at this point for two months. Another doctor with MercyOne explained that they only have one or two beds available at any given time in the ICU. But his greatest concern was what the upcoming flu season would do to an already strained hospital system.

“We need to get as many shots into arms as possible; we don’t have a crystal ball to predict what flu is going to be like this year,” Dr. Jeff Brock Pharmacy Specialist in Infectious Diseases with MercyOne said. “If we had an influenza surge on top of a covid surge we would be in a lot of trouble as far as our healthcare services go. COVID-19 alone has taxed us.”

Trump also agreed that the outlook for hospitalizations was only going to get worse.

“You add up an infectious respiratory season on top of a pandemic and all the factors we are facing now, it is going to get worse,” Trump said.

Flu shots are out in pharmacies right now. Health officials have stated that it is completely safe to get a COVID-19 vaccine and flu shot at the same time.

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