Staff is overworked as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase again, says University of Iowa Hospitals CEO

Coronavirus Impacting Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa — The CEO of the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Suresh Gunasekaran, said Wednesday he is not concerned about hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID and other patients.

“At the end of the day this pandemic has become a marathon, and not a sprint and I think that the healthcare system isn’t going to be overwhelmed in my opinion I think a new concept is when is the healthcare system going to tire out,” said Gunasekaran, “I think that what we’re trying to figure out is what can we do to make it more manageable for patients.”

The UIHC CEO said workers are quitting, or taking time off. Some are heading to other states for better pay.

“We are nationally having healthcare worker staffing crisis in general with this much hospitalization happening across the nation all hospitals are having trouble retaining their staff and recruiting staff,” said Gunasekaran. State-wide there are, there are bed challenges that are being caused by not having enough staffing, and we see that by increased transfer requests from various different parts of the state when they’re unable to staff the same number of beds that they were last year.”

The UIHC often has shortages of staff and that means people come in on their day off to help. This hospital doesn’t really have what traditionally may be known as elective surgeries. When a case gets referred to UIHC it’s already serious and beyond the elective stage. The CEO was also asked about the Children’s Hospital.

“Our occupancy is closer to 85% in the Children’s Hospital now which is substantially higher than it was last year and substantially higher than you would expect in September,” said  Gunasekaran. “The Children’s Hospital is mostly been slammed by very high volumes of respiratory disease amongst children and so at this point, it’s been mostly RSV and croup but there has been some Covid.”

He said he thought there were eight or nine children who have COVID at the facility.

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