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The Chief Medical Officer at MercyOne Addresses Patient Surge, Masks and More


Hospitalizations reached an all-time high at Sioux City’s two facilities this week.

There were a combined 108 patients at UnityPoint-Health St. Luke’s and MercyOne on December 1st. The number did dip to 88 today.  The Chief Medical Director at MercyOne Siouxland, Dr. Larry Volz, talked to SPM’s Sheila Brummer about the surge, stress levels and what people can do to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Dr. Larry Volz, the Chief Medical Officer at MercyOne Siouxland, says his facility has been busy with COVID-19 patients since the later part of the fall. 

Credit Merc

“Our surge plan would allow us to go beyond where we are now.  I won’t wouldn’t want to go higher that the patient load now. When surged earlier in the Spring as well.  But, there were more resources then.”

“We’re waiting to see to see if there is any a post-Thanksgiving surge that we were fearful of after all of the mass gatherings.  We’re in a place right now where we can handle the COVID-19 patients as according to our surge plan.”

Volz admits the whole hospital is stressed from top to bottom.  But, that stress is felt by medical providers all across the country. 

“When we were in our first surge, people were bringing food and signs up and all of the time and that has faded in some extent so that has made our work a little harder for our staff.”

Volz says doctors now know more about the disease and how to treat patients.

But, he stresses, the whole community needs to work together to stop the spread and ease hospitalizations. 

“If everyone in our region could wear a mask and be cautious around who they are spending time with in close quarters we could get this under control much quicker.”

“A lot of people say 'I’ll do just fine if I get it I don’t need to wear a mask I don’t care if I get it'. That’s the most disheartening thing about this.  You don’t know who is going to be very sick or show no symptoms." 

As for vulnerable patients, Volz says two new antibody treatments show great promise, especially if taken early in the illness.  Plus, the incoming vaccine provides plenty of hope.
“It’s going to be months down the road, but this is what is going to turn this pandemic around.”

MercyOne recently launched a new infusion clinic to administer the new treatments. Volz says there is enough to cover the next couple of weeks. 

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