Local Emergency Room Leader Stresses Importance of Reducing the Spread of COVID-19

Dec 20, 2020

Credit UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's

Even though the number of hospitalizations in Sioux City has fallen by more than half in the past two weeks, one local emergency room doctor says people still need to double down to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“It’s been very challenging with high volumes of COVID-19 patients who tend to stay in the hospital for longer periods of time and other patients as well.”

Dr. Jeffrey O’Tool is the Vice President of Medical Operations at Unity-Point Health St. Luke’s.  He says the challenge also comes with sick staff members and in-patient beds that aren’t always available without a wait.

All, issues that can be corrected.

“It would be best for the public to do their part so we don’t see a big spike this holiday season.”

Dr. O’Tool says restrictions added last month do appear to work and people are following health guidelines better than before, but not as much as medical officials at UnityPoint would like.

And, extra precautions will help during the upcoming flu season as well.

“What prevents COVID will prevent influenza.  If we all do our share we should have a more mild flu season than other years.” 

Much has changed since the start of the pandemic when it comes to treatment of COVID-19 patients.  Dr. O’Tool says ventilators aren’t used unless absolutely necessary for those with low oxygen levels.  New treatments, if administered early in illness, can decrease hospitalizations. 

Plus, the upcoming vaccine provides much needed hope.

“To curb the illness and get back to a new normal.”

Jeffery O'Tool, MD serves as Director of Hospital Operations at UnityPoint Health-St. Luke's and also specializes in Emergency Medicine.

Credit Siouxland District Health
Credit Siouxland District Health