Iowa hospitals searching for more nurses amid COVID-19 surge

One in every 107 people in Iowa tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week.


Two Des Moines, Iowa, hospitals are searching for more nurses to help with the growing coronavirus outbreak.


UnityPoint Health Des Moines and MercyOne Des Moines both said they are competing with other states to recruit. UnityPoint said 40 of its staff members were out sick Tuesday. MercyOne also reported a significant staff shortage.

MercyOne said it has opened additional critical care beds and is adjusting where staff members are, depending on the number of hospitalizations each day.

Cindy Penney is the chief nursing officer at MercyOne.

“We have developed surge plans for staffing that include utilizing agency staffing as well as calling upon individuals who work part time to see if they are willing to work more,” Penney said.

MercyOne said it is using nursing students, as well.

The need for more nurses comes as increasing numbers of Iowans were hospitalized with the virus on Wednesday, further stressing hospitals and health care workers as they try to keep up with the surge.

Iowa Department of Public Health data showed 4,764 additional confirmed cases in the past 24 hours and 26 more deaths, bringing the state total to 1,898. It was the fifth consecutive day Iowa has reported more than 4,000 new cases in a day.

Over the past two weeks, the rolling average number of daily new cases has increased by 2,877, an increase of 215%, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University.

One in every 107 people in Iowa tested positive in the past week.

State data indicated 1,190 people were in Iowa hospitals with COVID-19 with 210 in intensive care. An additional 230 people were admitted in the past 24 hours, the highest single-day number since the beginning of the pandemic and a 39% increase from the day before.

Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday enacted a new mask requirement for social, community, recreational or sporting events. It requires people to wear masks if they joining indoor gatherings of 25 or more or outdoor gatherings of 100 or more.

Some Democratic legislative leaders said the measures weren't enough to stop the rapid spread of the virus.