University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics preparing for potential coronavirus outbreak in eastern Iowa

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa. (TAYLOR HOLT/KCRG)
University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, Iowa. (TAYLOR HOLT/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Feb. 25, 2020 at 6:47 PM CST
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Staff at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics are preparing for any potential outbreak of an infectious disease or illness, and their emergency manager said they are ready.

It comes amid a warning from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday that Americans should be prepared for the potential for “significant disruptions” when the coronavirus, or COVID-19, spreads in the U.S.

Mike Hartley, the emergency manager at UIHC, said he has a group of hospital leaders, experts, and community health officials at the ready to address infectious diseases or bio-emergencies. That group is made up of university leadership, clinical experts, and other departments like the pharmacy and community and public health officials.

“Currently, our group is still meeting, we are watching the global and U.S. situation very, very closely now. We are dealing with the influenza situation and then should the coronavirus start to become more of a factor especially here in Iowa, we’re on call or readiness to pull the trigger to begin the processes that we’ve developed,” Hartley said.

Part of what the group does is discuss how to properly train staff, ensure there is enough supplies and other resources and even making sure there are enough beds available. Hartley said the key to preparing for any potential outbreak is quick and direct communication.

“Which is why bringing people together in a personal or virtual format is the key in responding to an emergency like that. Getting the right people in the room, at the same time or on a conference call, whether its local, regional, statewide, we’ve done them all in response to this potential outbreak,” Hartley said.

In a statement to KCRG-TV9, Dr. Caitlin Pedati, the Medical Director of Iowa's Department of Public Health said families should prepare just like they would when there is a threat of a severe weather event that disrupts your regular routine.

Pedati’s statement said, in part, that families should have discussions about what they would do if they were unable to go to school or work because of illness, just like you would with the flu - which is a much higher risk in Iowa right now.