UIHC adds requirements for employee personal protective equipment, Mercy enrolls in convalescent plasma treatment

In a press conference on Tuesday, Chief Medical Officer Theresa Brennan said UI Hospitals and Clinics was requiring its employees with face-to-face contact with patients to wear both face shields and medical-grade masks.


Katie Goodale

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics as seen on Sept. 17, 2018.

Sarah Watson, Managing Editor

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has stepped up requirements for its employees to wear personal protective equipment in line with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, requiring all employees who have face-to-face interactions with patients to wear both a medical-grade mask and face shields.

For staff who don’t come in contact with patients, UI Chief Medical Officer Theresa Brennan said at a press conference on Tuesday that they are required to wear cloth masks, many of which are homemade.

Since February, a total of 68 UIHC employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus to date, Brennan said. That includes two employees who tested positive Monday, she added.

At Mercy Iowa City, Communications Director Margaret Reese said the hospital launched an initiative to clean N95 masks with UV lights for reuse after each shift to conserve PPE.

Brennan said UIHC hasn’t changed testing requirements in recent days, keeping in line with Iowa Department of Public Health and the CDC, but it does test patients undergoing certain procedures that could expose health-care providers.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds on Tuesday announced the state’s launch of a mass testing initiative, asking Iowans to take a survey to collect data on where the state should deploy the most COVID-19 tests.

Brennan and Margaret Reese with Mercy Iowa City said neither of their hospitals has had to furlough employees. Hundreds of hospitals across the country have laid off staff as hospitals cancel elective procedures to conserve personal protective equipment.

Mercy Iowa City also enrolled in a research program with the Mayo Clinic to conduct convalescent plasma treatment, Reese said. UIHC announced they’d begun a plasma treatment program last week, which is when patients who’ve recovered for a period of at least two weeks to donate plasma for patients currently sick. Mercy enrolled in that program within the last few days.