Washington hospital continues adapting to coronavirus wave

As COVID-related hospitalizations continue to rise, Washington County Hospital and Clinics has made adjustments to meet the wave.

WCHC has 23 licensed beds and increased the number of COVID-specific beds from seven to nine following Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Nov. 16 proclamation that hospitals must set aside at least 10 percent of their beds for COVID patients.

WCHC has been stocking up on equipment since the pandemic hit in March.

“Since March, WCHC has been investing in equipment and supplies to ensure we can meet the healthcare demands of our community,” WCHC Marketing Director Amy Vetter said. “WCHC has acquired sufficient personal protective equipment for workers.”

Vetter said that the new equipment includes Airvo and BiPAP units to treat hospitalized patients with respiratory difficulty.

The rooms set aside for COVID-19 patients are equipped with new air handlers to create negative pressure rooms to better treat infectious patients.

While WCHC does not have any intensive care unit beds, the hospital is able to transfer patients needing that level of care to larger hospitals in Iowa City.

“WCHC partners with other hospitals in the region including UIHC, Mercy Iowa City and the Iowa City VA to transfer patients in need of intensive care,” Vetter said. “Thus far we have not had issues transferring those patients that need ICU.”

She said that although there is no formal agreement with other hospitals, it has become a “normal practice and part of ongoing conversations during the pandemic.”

Conversely, Washington Hospital and Clinics is available to take on other patients from those hospitals.

“The benefit of this type of partnership helps all hospitals maintain capacity to treat and care for patients when they are at their most vulnerable,” Vetter said.

Laura Shoemaker, public relations manager for UIHC in Iowa City, said that the university hospital is working to increase coordination with several community hospitals.

“It takes strong collaboration between UI Health Care and community hospitals to ensure clinical continuity and provide a high-quality experience for the patient and the family,” Shoemaker said.