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Quad Cities ICUs Overwhelmed with COVID Patients

Last week, UnityPoint Health had the ICU beds, but it didn't have the ICU staff. Now, those beds are full, and hospital staff are working overtime to care for the growing number of COVID-19 patients.  

"The ICU beds are touch-and-go. We send someone out of the ICU, there's probably two people waiting for a bed," says Toyosi Olutade, Chief Medical Officer at UnityPoint Health Trinity Hospital. "But our staff, they have been fabulous. It's just impossible to describe what they've been going through, but we have seen a lot of resiliency. A lot of people that were working during the day, they're now working at night because we have a... shortage at night."

Olutade says there's been no coronavirus transmission in the hospital. His staff run a greater risk of catching COVID-19 in the grocery store than they do in the ICU. 

"For every person that gets infected, that person is likely to infect four or five other people. This is very different from the Flu, where it would take two people to get one person infected. This is the other way around, so it is very contagious." 

The number of COVID-19 patients in the ICU at Genesis Health System doubled over the past week from 51 to 105. UnityPoint Health is seeing that same jump, from 40 last week to roughly 80 this week. COVID-19 patients also tend to stay in the ICU longer, so finding bedspace isn't easy.  

Olutade worries that a spike over the holidays could exhaust all available resources. 

"Everyone will be affected. We're not just talking about COVID patients. People who have a flare-up of their asthma may not get the care they need. If we continue at this rate and with this trajectory, it is almost not sustainable."

There is hope. Olutade says everyone can help his staff and themselves by wearing a mask, staying six feet apart, and washing their hands.  

Marianna Bacallao is WVIK Quad Cities NPR's 2020-2021 Fellowship Host/Reporter. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Mercer University's Center for Collaborative Journalism and served as Editor-in-Chief for the student newspaper, The Cluster.
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