UI Hospitals & Clinics ready for potential surge

Suresh Gunasekaran, the CEO of UIHC, says they are prepared for a surge in COVID hospitalizations.
Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 2:43 PM CST
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IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics is ready to stay open, safe, and able to care for as many patients as possible in response to the continued increasing rates of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations across the state.

“As a hospital that serves patients from all 99 counties in Iowa, we play a critical role in responding to the pandemic,” says Suresh Gunasekaran, MBA, chief executive officer of UI Hospitals & Clinics and associate vice president for UI Health Care. “Hospitals across Iowa are stretched thin and need our support in caring for patients with complex care needs, and we are committed to being there for them. The good news is we’re built for this—we’re adaptable enough that we can adjust our operations to meet the needs of Iowans, and we’re fortunate to have highly skilled staff that have shown extraordinary dedication and resilience throughout the pandemic.”

In preparation for a potential surge, UI Health Care is adding ICU beds to accommodate statewide transfers, additional services for local COVID testing, and more staffing resources to respond to a record number of patient calls.

To put the plan into effect, UI Health Care is making a number of operational changes, such as reassigning staff to other areas, modifying its staff quarantine process, and slightly decreasing clinical volumes, as needed.

“All of these changes are designed to keep our services available to all Iowans who need us,” says Gunasekaran. “It is not good when people put off the care they need, and we are being intentional about our changes to ensure we can continue to serve the entire state even during this surge.”

UI Health Care is also implementing additional safety measures to safeguard staff and patients, including additional visitor limitations to reduce the number of people in its facilities and expanding work from home for non-clinical frontline staff. More information will be provided to patients ahead of the changes, which are expected to be in place no later than November 16 and continue through January 3, 2021.

Patients are encouraged to keep their appointments, as the added capacity and staff reassignments are designed to keep as many UI Health Care services open as staffing allows. Anyone who needs to be rescheduled or changed to a telehealth appointment will be contacted by UI Health Care in advance of their visit.

“We’re taking action now because this is a critical moment in the pandemic,” says Gunasekaran. “If COVID numbers in the state continue to rise unchecked, these may be only the first of many difficult decisions we will need to make over the coming weeks. We continue to urge Iowans to take immediate action to slow the transmission of COVID as we enter the cold weather season of influenza and respiratory illness. This includes not gathering for the holidays. I know that these are big sacrifices to make, but these are necessary steps to protect the health of our loved ones and others in our community.”

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