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'The system is stressed' | Metro doctors say resources are dwindling as COVID infects continue to spread

Local 5 News spoke with doctors at all three major health care systems in the metro. Each says people should expect extremely long waits in ERs and urgent cares.

DES MOINES, Iowa — As COVID-19 infections continue to spread, doctors at Des Moines' three area hospitals are sounding the alarm. 

"But there are literally no beds available," said UnityPoint emergency physician Dr. Brooke Johnson. "So when you admit someone to the hospital, they could sit down in the emergency room for one to two days before they even get their inpatient bed."

"We were at completely full last week and we are operating at the highest capacity this week," Broadlawns urgent care physician Dr. Yulia Johnson told Local 5. "And of course we are doing the best we can, but the system is stressed. The clinics are seeing the highest amount of patients we've ever seen."

"Our emergency room is jam-packed," said MercyOne infectious disease pharmacist Dr. Jeff Brock. "There's people waiting everywhere. There's long wait times."

As the pandemic continues, so do other emergencies like heart attacks, car accidents and strokes. Doctors add they are concerned about other serious viral infections. 

"It's not only COVID, there's influenza cases that we're seeing are increasing," Johnson said. "RSV cases are still here. All the normal coughs and colds that come with a season are here. And it feels like as soon as we come up for air from one COVID wave, the next one is upon us."

That's why before people gather for the holidays, health experts are urging Americans to get vaccinated and boosted.

"Really that vaccine, it's not bulletproof, but it really slows the amount of severe illness it slows the amount of hospitalizations, oxygen requirements, all the bad things with COVID," Brooke Johnson said. "That vaccine has made a difference."

Along with vaccinations, doctors add testing before a holiday party could make a major difference. 

"It does cost a little money that run about $10 to $15 per test," Brock added. "But that's cheaper than giving somebody the gift of COVID for Christmas where they might end up in the hospital or missing work, missing school."

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