Cedar Rapids hospitals see rise in COVID-19 admissions, urge booster shots
After seeing a slow decline in COVID-19 admissions since mid-October, Cedar Rapids hospitals UnityPoint Health - St. Luke’s Hospital and Mercy Medical Center are now seeing a marked increase in COVID-19 admissions.
Currently, Mercy is treating 32 hospitalized COVID-19 patients; 27 of those are unvaccinated and five are vaccinated; only one of them has received the booster shot. At St. Luke’s, 49 individuals are hospitalized and 12 are vaccinated; three have received the booster.
In an effort to reverse the trend of rising COVID-19 hospital admissions, medical officers at both hospitals are urging individuals to receive the booster shot.
“We clearly noticed an initial benefit once the booster shot became available,” said Dr. Tony Myers, chief medical officer at Mercy Cedar Rapids. “The booster is highly effective in keeping people out of the hospital and reducing their chances of having severe illness. We are strongly urging people to get the booster.”
“People who have received the booster shot do not appear to be having the breakthrough infections requiring hospitalization we are seeing with those who are not boosted,” said Dr. Dustin Arnold, chief medical officer at Unity Point Health - St. Luke’s Hospital. “With the holidays fast approaching, this is a critical point in time for individuals to boost their defenses against COVID-19.”
Cedar Rapids hospitals began administering booster vaccines, per the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization, in late September. Booster doses are authorized for individuals who previously received the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine and are 18 years of age or older. Boosters are authorized six months after the second dose of Pfizer and Moderna, and two months after the single dose of Johnson & Johnson.
Booster shots are available at hospital-affiliated clinics and local pharmacies where the COVID-19 vaccine is available. Visit www.mercycare.org/covidvaccine for Mercy-affiliated locations and UnityPoint Health patients should call and schedule with their provider.
St. Luke’s and Mercy have worked together throughout the pandemic to put measures in place to keep patients, visitors and staff safe. These measures include limiting visitors; screening those who enter our facilities; promoting hand hygiene and social distancing; requiring masking; and establishing rigorous cleaning procedures.
We ask the public to continue to take measures to protect the community and healthcare workers by wearing a mask in group settings with individuals who are unvaccinated, social distancing, staying home when sick and getting a flu shot.
Please know that both hospitals continue to accept and treat patients. The hospitals have plans in place to allow for expanded capacity, as needed.
The hospitals also remind the community that health emergencies should not wait. If an individual has a medical emergency, both hospitals are open, safe and ready to provide care. Call 911 or go to an ER immediately if you have a life-threatening condition.
For non-urgent medical needs, use walk-in medical clinics and primary care clinics, which are also safe and open.