University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics making staffing changes to combat COVID-19 crisis

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is changing procedures for faculty and staff as they prepare for a surge in COVID-19 cases.


Tate Hildyard

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics are seen on Tuesday, June 23, 2020.

Lillian Poulsen, News Reporter

The University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics is sounding the alarm, asking for hospital employees that can work from home to do remote work to preserve staff at the hospital as the pandemic increases in Iowa.

In a statement sent to faculty and staff on Monday, UIHC Chief Executive Officer Suresh Gunasekaran and UI Vice President for Medical Affairs Brooks Jackson said they are making changes including measures to increase the number of people working from home and changing the cost reduction of unpaid weeks and vacation. 

“We have entered a new stage of the pandemic in Iowa. Hospitals across our region and the state have reached, or will soon reach, capacity,” the statement said. “While some hospitals may have bed capacity, they do not have the staff available to provide necessary patient care.”

Faculty and staff will be expected to work from home if they can do so productively. If they are approved to work from home, employees will be expected to take unpaid week or weeks, the statement said. This will provide increased environmental safety for those who must be at work and assist in workforce preservation.

Jackson said in the statement that UIHC is a “safety net hospital for all citizens of Iowa”.

In an earlier update, the university said UIHC is prepared for surge capacity.

As previously reported by The Daily Iowan, UIHC is making changes to visiting hours, increasing staffing on COVID-19 floors, increasing bed space, and changing quarantine guidelines for hospital staff to prepare for the surge.

These changes are part of the first phase of the three phase plan Gunasekaran is implementing in the hospital. 

The university also reported new COVID-19 cases on Monday. Since Nov. 6, 78 students and 19 employees have self-reported testing positive for the virus. 

This brings the student semester-to-date total to 2,351 and employee semester-to-date total to 156.

In other news, the trial vaccine from pharmaceutical company Pfizer — which the UI was a trial site of — reported a 90 percent efficacy rate of preventing COVID-19, launching it into the lead of other vaccine manufacturers.