20 years later: Here’s how Iowa prepared for, and survived, Y2K

Local News
Y2K OK sticker Mercy Hospital Des Moines

The end of the year 1999 was a time of confusion and for some, panic.

Many thought that as the clock struck midnight with the calendar turning to 2000, the world could end.

Would computers work on January 1, 2000?

While nothing major actually happened, many across the state were ready in case something did happen.

For instance, banks advised Iowans not to take out large sums of money, and Mercy Hospital (as it was known) in Des Moines took precautions in ensuring equipment was ready to go.

State of Iowa

The Iowa State Emergency Operations Center was a busy place in late 1999, with agencies from across the state testing safety protocols and staying updated with any system glitches.

Agencies such as the Iowa Department of Human Services, Iowa Attorney General’s Office and Iowa Department of Corrections had a centralized place alongside others to troubleshoot issues or monitor problems.

MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center (then Mercy Hospital)

The hospital prepared for the new millennium by testing equipment and placing “Y2K OK” stickers on items approved for 2000.

“In biomed … we had over 8,000 pieces of equipment that needed test(ing),” Mercy Hospital said.

Everything from generators to defibrillators were tested, and if something was not up to code, it was removed from the hospital floors.

The hospital also said those afraid of going to the hospital had no reason to be concerned.

Des Moines International Airport

85 percent of flights from 8 p.m. New Year’s Eve 1999 to 8 a.m. New Year’s Day 2000 set to arrive in or depart from the Des Moines International Airport were canceled due to “a limited consumer demand”.

January 1, 2000

So what happened?

Iowans flocked to Capital Square in downtown Des Moines to ring in the new year and new millennium with hardly any issues.

“It’s as good as it can be,” Gov. Tom Vilsack said at the time.

“All institutions, judicial districts and community corrections are under normal operation at this time,” the Iowa Department of Corrections said.

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