Rock Island County and Scott County each reported a COVID-19-related death Thursday, while the CEOs of UnityPoint Health-Trinity and Genesis Health System announced plans to resume treating elective and outpatient clients in May.
The Rock Island County Health Department reported the 10th death of a resident because of COVID-19. The patient was a woman in her 50s who had been isolating at home.
The Rock Island Health Department reported nine new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 435 cases. A total of 24 patients are hospitalized.
The Scott County Health Department reported one COVID-19 death, bringing the county’s total to six. Four new cases were reported Thursday, increasing the county’s total to 226 cases.
Genesis Health System President and CEO Doug Cropper said elective surgeries and other non-COVID-19 care in Davenport would start to ramp up next week.
“We want to increase to around 25 percent of where we normally are, and we will build up our elective services and outpatient services gradually,” Cropper explained. “That process will start Tuesday (May 5) — but there are different guidelines in place for Iowa and Illinois, so we have to be extremely careful. We are facing a whole new set of challenges.”
UnityPoint Health-Trinity President and CEO Robert Erickson said he expected elective care to start in Iowa and Illinois on May 11.
He echoed Cropper when he talked about the challenges of making sure guidelines are followed. Both CEOs pointed out extensive testing would have to be done on any and all patients seeking elective care.
As an example, Cropper pointed out that Genesis has the capability to administer about 100 COVID-19 tests a week. He said Genesis would have to have the capability to conduct 300 to 500 tests a week.
Expanding care is crucial for the health systems — UnityPoint Health-Trinity and Genesis have faced severe revenue losses as hospitals and clinics suspended elective procedures and reduced outpatient services.
Erickson said UnityPoint Heath-Trinity lost roughly 50% of revenue since COVID-19 became a pandemic — a loss of $7 million in March and roughly another $14 million in April.
Cropper said Genesis faced losses of $10 million in March and “in excess” of $20 million in April.
“We expect May to be similar in terms of losses, but June could be better,” Cropper said. “Reimbursement is low in Iowa and Illinois, so that is an ongoing issue. I think we will end up seeing around $70 million in losses.”
As the hospital systems ramp back up, Cropper and Erickson said staffing levels will return closer to normal.
Erickson said UnityPoint Health-Trinity employed roughly 4,000 people, and “about half of our full-time employees have faced either hour reductions or furloughs.”
Cropper estimated close to 4,000 of Genesis’ 5,000 employees “have been touched in some way by reductions in hours, reassignment or furloughs.”
As employees return, they will need Personal Protection Equipment. Erickson and Cropper said they felt their respective health systems would have enough PPEs for employees.
Erickson said gowns were the least available equipment, while Cropper noted some continued difficulty getting N95 respirator masks. Both said their respective health systems had done a “good job” following safety guidelines for employees.
Cropper noted that 13 Genesis employees have tested positive for COVID-19 and “all but one of those employees got it through community contact.” He said none of those 13 employees required hospitalization.
Erickson said 12 UnityPoint Health-Trinity employees tested positive, and “all have recovered.”
Both CEOs noted that emergency room numbers have dropped dramatically since the spread of the novel coronavirus. Cropper said Genesis was seeing 50% fewer patients, and Erickson pegged UnityPoint Health-Trinity’s numbers at roughly 40% fewer intakes.
Erickson and Cropper said they though many people were afraid to go into emergency rooms because of COVID-19 fears.
“People need to understand the ERs are open and you will be safe,” Cropper said.
In other COVID-19 news from Illinois, the Henry County Health Department said there are 45 confirmed positive Covid-19 cases in Henry County.
It noted that of those cases, 10 of are connected to a cluster outbreak stemming from the Tyson Plant in Joslin, Ill.
The Iowa Department of Public Health was notified of 302 additional positive cases Thursday, for a total of 7,145 positive cases.
According to IDPH, an additional 14 deaths were reported, 335 are currently hospitalized and 2,697 Iowans have recovered. At this time, 1 in 74 Iowans have been tested.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 141 new deaths Thursday, bringing the state total to 2,355. There were 2,563 new cases reported, which increased the state’s total to 52,918.
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