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Iowa doctor says pandemic learnings are helping hospitals manage patient surge

An infectious disease consultant said it's tough dealing with high patient volumes, but the experience gained over the past two years is making it more manageable.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Doctors across the metro have faced difficult work environments due to higher patient volumes amid rising COVID-19 cases, but a MercyOne doctor said new protocols are making the job more manageable.

"Handling of cases in the hospital just with our experience, we are doing very well," said Dr. Aneesa Afroze, an infectious disease consultant. "So I think we are navigating better now than we ever did."

She said one of the reasons the hospital is more manageable is patients coming in with COVID are not showing as severe of symptoms, meaning fewer of them ending up in the ICU.

Afroze also said newer protocols at MercyOne allow more doctors to treat COVID patients.

"Initially in the pandemic, it was more of a burden on pulmonary critical care doctors, infectious disease doctors because others didn't know how to do things," Dr. Afroze said. "Now many people are very comfortable taking care of COVID patients. So in that way, I think their is a little bit of ease for other specialties."

She also said knowing more about the virus makes things easier for doctors now compared to the beginning of the pandemic.

"Initially nobody knew what worked," Dr. Afroze said. "We know some of the anti-inflammatory drugs work. There's also IV infusions that we can give for people who are worsening, but we have many options."

Even though managing high volumes has gotten a bit easier, she said doctors are still becoming fatigued. That's why it's still important for the public to get vaccinated, boosted and wear a mask when possible.

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