A year ago, as Iowa hit the first anniversary of dealing with COVID-19, healthcare workers had a plea: use self-protection, like masks and social distancing, to keep the highly contagious coronavirus from spreading. Hospital beds were full and the ability to respond to the pandemic was hampered by overwork and healthcare workers, themselves, getting sick. “Certain days are harder than others. You know, it kind of depends on what’s going on,” Lilly Olson, a University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics floor nurse, said talking with IowaWatch in January 2021 as Iowans moved into year two of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was one of several healthcare workers with whom IowaWatch spoke last winter during a report called Voices of COVID.
ByNatalie Krebs / Side Effects Public Media and Iowa Public Radio |
The Midwest is home to tens of thousands of immigrants — including refugees from countries like Myanmar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Iraq. It has been a challenge to provide information about COVID-19 and vaccines to those who don’t speak English.
The Johnson County Public Health Department in eastern Iowa has COVID-19 information available in about a half dozen languages. But Samuel Jarvis, who works for the department, said getting this translated information out during the pandemic can be really hard. “Because the information changes quickly. And really, it’s just — it has to be at a faster pace,” said Jarvis.
Lilly Olson was pregnant when dealing with hospital patients suffering from COVID-19, and at a time when healthcare professionals were climbing a learning curve for treating the people with the virus. She feared for what the virus could do to her family, including her unborn child.
On a normal day, helping sick people cope with the most serious, life-threatening illnesses is a given at the medical intensive care unit at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Lung failure, liver failure, kidney failure – the list goes on. Dr. Gregory Schmidt sees a little more than a dozen of these patients during morning rounds, then works with other healthcare givers at the hospital to map a plan to save each person’s life.
Kirstin Brainard’s daily rounds as a floor nurse at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics’ medical intensive care unit are a mix of reviewing how patients have done the past 24 hours, helping treat those patients and taking new admissions. Brainard is part of an 8-person team, which has to be ready to deal with any emergency on the hospital floor.
Seventy-six of Iowa’s 82 critical access hospitals ended the last fiscal year with negative operating margins, an IowaWatch analysis of their most recently reported financial data shows. Iowa’s situation falls in line with a national report that shows 46% of the nation’s rural hospitals are working with a negative operating margin.
ByIowaWatch database of U.S. HHS data compiled by Lyle Muller |
Relief payments distributed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services through the Health Resources and Services Administration have gone to the following Iowa health care providers, as of Feb. 10, 2021. The funds come via the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. These data show updates from previous databases IowaWatch has published. This database shows all health care provider distributions in Iowa.
Despite all of the reporting, public announcements and warnings from health care professionals, community leaders and elected officials, health care workers IowaWatch spoke with as 2020 drew to a close said many people still don’t understand the severity of suffering that the people hit hardest with COVID-19 have to endure. Unless, that it, they have seen it up close, themselves, with someone they know.
Iowa hospitals lost an estimated $433 million in March through October because of COVID-19, the Iowa Hospital Association said in a report released Wednesday, Dec. 16. The association reported that the state’s hospitals have spent $1.25 billion to equip hospitals for and to care for people with the highly contagious coronavirus that has killed 3,354 Iowans and 307,076 Americans. Provider relief funds from federal government stimulus programs offset much of those costs and were included in the calculations that resulted in the loss estimate, the association reported. The projection did not include money from some federal programs, like the Paycheck Protection Program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or state funding, the association reported.