COVID-19 Updates

Resources & FAQs

MercyOne Coronavirus Dropbox

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Iowa Department of Public Health Website

Employee Assistance Programs:
24-7 access to Employee Assistance Programs is available to provide confidential resources providing no-cost counseling, information and referral services to help address personal, family or work-related concerns. EAP can be reached at 1-800-327-4692. All employees have access to unlimited phone-based services and up to 6 in person counseling sessions. You can also log onto www.efr.org to chat with someone online or schedule telehealth appointments.

Iowa Psychiatric Society COVID-19 Resource Page

 

COVID-19 Updates

June 26:

  • A new sidewalk has been poured outside of clinic B today, so we will soon have an “alternate” entrance to support moving Urgent Care back into the clinic in July.
  • During Governor Reynolds’ press conference, she announced that Iowa’s Public Health Disaster Emergency Proclamation has been extended another 30 days.  Many relief measures implemented previously will be extended and all team athletics may resume normal activities following certain guidelines.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 27,676 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are now at 35 with one additional case confirmed via serology testing.

June 18:

  • Reminder – as patients are seen at our facility, we continue to ask that no outside food or drink is brought in during their appointment.  For the health and safety of all patients, these items must remain in their vehicles.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 24,737 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are now at 34 with one additional case confirmed via serology testing.

June 10:

  • During today’s press conference, Governor Reynolds announced that effective Friday, June 12th at 8:00 am, the 50% capacity limit currently in place for businesses will be lifted, while retaining the requirements of 6 feet social distancing for businesses such as restaurants, bars and theaters. Establishments must continue to implement reasonable measures to ensure social distancing, increase hygiene practices and other public health measures to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19.  Swimming pools and senior centers may open under these same guidelines.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 22,516 and total confirmed cases in Madison County remain at 29 with one additional case confirmed via serology testing.

June 4:

  • As we are coming upon the final stages of construction to the new cafeteria, we will bring in volunteers to help over the lunch hour.  Any requirements for training will be communicated accordingly.
  • Finally, we wanted to extend a huge thank you to our staff for continuing to wear face masks and following other safety protocols put in place for COVID-19.  We are acutely aware that many of our patients have put off their routine visits for their own health and safety.  Those who are now starting to schedule appointments feel more comfortable coming in to our facility when our staff continues to model healthy practices such as temperature screening, wearing masks, hand washing and social distancing.  So thank you again for setting a wonderful example for our community and providing safe care for our patients!

June 3:

  • We are looking for temporary seasonal help through the summer for individuals to help with the screening at the ED entrance and Clinic entrances.  If you happen to know someone who is on summer break from nursing school or has a CNA license, we would appreciate your help in spreading the word!
  • We are working towards opening our facilities back up to normal operations but also trying to maintain a safe, COVID-Free environment. Starting tomorrow, we will allow 1 well visitor with each adult patient. Screening at doors and masking remains the same.

Clinic/ER/Outpatient/Surgery

  • 1 parent/guardian/adult with a minor patient (18 years of age and under)
  • 1 well visitor with an adult as a lay caregiver/support person
  • All other non-patients will need to wait in their vehicle while the patient is in the clinic

Inpatient:

  • Inpatients may have 1 well visitor at a time
  • If patient is in isolation precautions, visitation will be determined by nursing manager and Infection Prevention nurse
  • No overnight guests
  • Hand hygiene must be performed by visitors before entering and upon exiting patient’s room
  • Visitor must don mask in public areas
  • Visitors must be over the age of 16
  • Nursing staff can determine length of stay and appropriateness of times for visitors

June 2:

  • Moving forward, incident command calls will be scheduled for Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings and COVID-19 updates will be sent out accordingly.  Any urgent matters that may arise will be communicated intermittently.
  • To preserve the amount of testing kits we have available, any admissions that are to be transferred to MercyOne will not be tested at our facility.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 19,951 and total confirmed cases in Madison County stand at 29 with one additional case confirmed via serology testing.

June 1:

  • Tomorrow morning, we will be discussing the frequency of the COVID-19 incident command call and will continue to send updates pertaining to any urgent and informative matters.  Starting the week of June 15th, we will resume the Weekly Huddle and will incorporate the incident command information with that unless there is urgent information that needs to be communicated sooner.
  • The urgent care will temporarily start closing at 5:00 pm weekday evenings, with the respiratory urgent care remaining open until 7:00 pm.  The clinic doors will be locked after 5:00 pm.
  • Reminder, Governor Reynolds’ COVID-19 news conferences have been changed to Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00 am.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 19,696 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are now 29 with one additional case confirmed via serology testing.

May 29:

  • We are now testing all admissions. The state has expanded guidelines for serology testing to include essential and healthcare workers and we are working on putting together a plan to test employees.
  • Governor Reynolds has revised the live stream press conference schedule to air on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11:00 am.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 18,791 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are now 27 with one additional case confirmed via serology testing.

May 28:

  • Staff that is traveling via domestic airline is no longer required to quarantine upon their return for an additional 14 days.  However, we strongly discourage airline travel unless it is necessary.  We continue to encourage you when traveling to wear a mask in public, social distance, wash your hands frequently, and all the other things you routinely do to keep yourself safe.  Consider staying home if your trip is not essential; especially if you are at a higher risk of severe illness.  Don’t travel if you are sick or travel with someone who is sick.
  • Staff MUST inform their leader if they are planning to travel to areas of concern listed below. Anyone traveling to these areas will be required to remain off work an additional 14 days to self-monitor.

Any Cruise (Domestic, International or River)

International Airline Travel/Travel Outside the U.S.

  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 18,522 and total confirmed cases in Madison County remain at 26 with one additional case confirmed via serology testing.

May 27:

  • Starting this week, COVID-19 tests processed by a reference lab via MercyOne will be collected with a saliva sample while tests processed by the State Hygienic Lab will continue to use a nasal swab for collection.
  • Beginning on June 1, clinic staff will return to normal schedules. As a result, only respiratory urgent care will be available on weekday evenings from 5-7 pm to minimize the risk of cross contamination. Both respiratory urgent care and normal urgent care will be available for normal Saturday hours.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 18,262 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are now 26 with one additional case confirmed via serology testing.

May 26:

  • The Patient Accounts department is not currently allowing in person visits from patients. Patients with questions should call Patient Accounts at (515) 462-9747. Payments can be completed online at https://madisoncountymemorialhospital.paymyhealthbill.com/quickpay or checks can be mailed to the hospital.
  • Today the governor announced that the current health emergency declaration set to expire on May 27th will be extended with some changes through June 25. Bars will now be allowed to feature live music and groups of up to ten individuals can be seated together. Additional businesses will be allowed to open including casinos & gaming facilities, outdoor live music events, amusement parks, bowling alleys, and arcades as well as speedways and racetracks opening to spectators. All will be required to follow social distancing protocols and only open at 50% capacity. Sports gatherings will also be allowed at 50% capacity. Games, practices, and competitions can resume for adult and youth softball and baseball, as well as independent sports like running, biking, swimming, tennis, and golf.
  • The governor also announced that some other elements of the public health proclamation would phase out on May 27th including the moratorium on debt collection and foreclosures. More information will be released later this week.

May 22:

  • Please ensure you are wearing your face mask anytime you are in a common area, near another employee, or near a patient. Unless you are in a closed-door office or similar enclosed space alone, your face mask should be on. Masks must completely cover both your nose and mouth to be effective and should fit snugly. While they can be tedious to wear for long periods of time, it is imperative that we protect our patients and each other by wearing them consistently.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 16,415 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are now 21 with one additional case confirmed via serology testing. As a reminder, these numbers are cumulative totals, not necessarily current infections in the community.

May 21:

  • An employee at Madison County Health Care System (MCHCS) recently tested positive for COVID-19. Immediately upon notification of the positive test result, the department where this employee works was closed and will not reopen until an extremely thorough sanitization is completed and the required period of time has passed. Any other employees who had contact with this individual have been identified and tested. Any patients that had contact with this individual have also been identified and are being contacted by public health.

o   Please do not share any information about this with the public, especially on social media. It is important that communication about this topic come from official channels so we can ensure its accuracy and help prevent rumors from circulating. A public statement will be released later today.

  • Today the governor announced that TestIowa testing guidelines will be expanded so that anyone who feels they should be tested can be. Tests can be scheduled at www.testiowa.com and we encourage all staff members to participate.

May 20:

  • The COVID-19 pandemic is creating strong feelings of anxiety and isolation for many. 24-7 access to Employee Assistance Programs is available for all MCHCS employees to provide confidential resources providing no-cost counseling, information and referral services to help address personal, family or work-related concerns. EAP can be reached at 1-800-327-4692. All employees have access to unlimited phone-based services and up to 6 in person counseling sessions. You can also log onto www.efr.org to chat with someone online or schedule telehealth appointments.
  • The number of confirmed cases in Madison County continue to rise while many in the community are not complying with health and safety guidelines. As a health care organization as well as one of the largest employers in the county, please help us set a good example for the rest of the community by practicing social distancing and taking other recommended precautions.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 15,533 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are now 20 with one additional case confirmed via serology testing.
  • Today the governor announced that effective on Friday movie theaters, zoos, museums, aquariums, and wedding venues will be allowed to reopen. Swimming pools will also be allowed to reopen for lap swimming and swimming lessons at that time. Next Thursday, bars and other businesses that serve alcohol will be permitted to reopen for indoor and outdoor with 50% capacity.
  • The governor also announced that effective June 1, schools will be allowed to resume school sponsored activities and learning, including high school softball and baseball seasons. More will be announced next week regarding plans to safely resume other youth athletic activities.
  • It was also announced today that this Friday modern restrooms, shower buildings, and cabins at Iowa state parks will be reopening. Campgrounds will be open for all campers including RV’s, pop up’s, and tent camping. Youth group camp sites will remain closed as well as other common areas like shelters, lodges, and playgrounds. Only campers with overnight reservations will be allowed in campgrounds, meaning no visitors at camp sites. Only 6 individuals will be allowed in a camp site, unless the immediate family includes more than 6 people. Beaches will remain open, but will be monitored closely.

May 19:

  • SHL has made serology testing available for request by providers. Testing is for those who are suspected or confirmed to have had COVID-19 and at least 7 days have passed since symptom onset. It can also be considered for individuals who are interested in being plasma donors to help treat current COVID-19 patients. Health care workers, first responders, and critical infrastructure workers also qualify for testing in order to help better understand what exposure those individuals might have had.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 15,296 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are now 17 (one confirmed via serology testing).
  • Additional announcements will be made at the governor’s press conference tomorrow regarding changes and/or extensions to the current public health proclamation that expires on May 27th.

May 18:

  • As a reminder, respiratory urgent care will be moving to room 11 on the Med/Surg floor and patients will be seen there starting tomorrow morning.
  • It is important that everyone continue to take precautions including practicing social distancing and wearing a mask in public now that many restrictions have been lifted. Many in the community are not complying and confirmed cases are starting to climb. Please help us set a positive example for the community when you are out and about.
  • New SHL testing guidelines have been released to include children and childcare workers with a fever.
  • The data dashboards at coronavirus.iowa.gov will be updated later this afternoon to include even more information for the public. Case counts will soon be updated in real time rather than at a set time each day.
  • A new TestIowa call center has been established and is staffed by RN’s. Individuals who have completed an assessment can call in with any questions related to testing, test results, what to do if they’re positive, and more. The phone number is available on the TestIowa website inside the assessment and in follow up email communication for those who have completed the assessment.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 14,955 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are now 16.

May 16:

  • As a reminder, respiratory urgent care will be moving to room 11 on the Med/Surg floor and patients will be seen there starting tomorrow morning.
  • It is important that everyone continue to take precautions including practicing social distancing and wearing a mask in public now that many restrictions have been lifted. Many in the community are not complying and confirmed cases are starting to climb. Please help us set a positive example for the community when you are out and about.
  • New SHL testing guidelines have been released to include children and childcare workers with a fever.
  • The data dashboards at coronavirus.iowa.gov will be updated later this afternoon to include even more information for the public. Case counts will soon be updated in real time rather than at a set time each day.
  • A new TestIowa call center has been established and is staffed by RN’s. Individuals who have completed an assessment can call in with any questions related to testing, test results, what to do if they’re positive, and more. The phone number is available on the TestIowa website inside the assessment and in follow up email communication for those who have completed the assessment.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 14,955 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are now 16.

May 15:

  • As a reminder, respiratory urgent care (where we see potential COVID-19 patients) will be moving to the south end of the med/surg floor at the end of the day Monday and will begin operating from room 11 starting at 7:00 am Tuesday morning. Patients should continue to call before coming in, will park in the med/surg circle drive area, and use the far south med/surg entrance. Parking and entrances will be signed with instructions for patients.
  • Today the governor announced that Iowa’s confirmed case counts have stabilized and our doubling time (an important metric to measure spread) has lengthened to 18 days. The most recent daily positivity rate (positive tests/total tests administered) was 8%, a drop from the overall average of 15%.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 14,049 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are now 14.

May 14:

  • Please note that respiratory urgent care (where we see potential COVID-19 patients) will be moving to the south end of the med/surg floor at the end of the day Monday and will begin operating from room 11 starting at 7:00 am Tuesday morning. Patients should continue to call before coming in, will park in the med/surg circle drive area, and use the far south med/surg entrance. Parking and entrances will be signed with instructions for patients.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 13,675 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are still at 13.
  • As a reminder, many restrictions will be lifted statewide tomorrow, May 15th. For more information about reopenings, please click here – https://governor.iowa.gov/press-release/gov-reynolds-signs-new-proclamation-continuing-the-state-public-health-emergency-2. Please continue to take precautions when in public and limit your non-essential errands.

May 13:

  • Today Governor Reynolds announced that many restrictions will be lifted statewide on Friday, May 15th. The restrictions that have already been lifted in 77 counties (including Madison County) will be expanded statewide. Additionally, barbershops, salons, and massage therapy businesses will also be allowed to reopen statewide on Friday.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 13,289 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are now 13.

May 12:

  • An important update will be given tomorrow regarding social distancing restrictions in Iowa. There was also a large increase in confirmed cases reported in Iowa today. This was due in large part to testing conducted in Nebraska related to a manufacturing facility at the end of April where reporting results to the state of Iowa was delayed.
  • Total confirmed cases in Iowa are now 12,912 and total confirmed cases in Madison County are now 12.

May 11:

  • Please be sure to report any illness or COVID-19 testing to your department manager even if you are working from home. Please take PTO if you are ill so you can get the rest and downtime you need to recover. If you qualify for COVID-19 testing, please notify Cindy Frank and update her with your test results when you get them. We are carefully monitoring illness and testing among employees so we can ensure the hospital is as safe as possible for both our staff and patients.
  • We are resuming elective surgeries for low-risk patients starting today. We hope to increase procedures as long as we can safely do so and are able to maintain our necessary PPE supply. This is an important step for our organization, so thank you to everyone who has worked hard to make this possible.
  • Two new TestIowa sites are opening this week in Davenport and Ottumwa for a total of 7 testing sites throughout the state. A batch of testing was unfortunately damaged before it could be tested last week. If your test was affected you should have been notified with more detail, but may have only be notified your test was inconclusive. We encourage you to seek retesting if your test was affected.

May 8:

  • Reusable isolation gowns are laundered on Mondays and Thursdays and can take up to a week to return. Please turn in dirty gowns the evening before these days even if the bags aren’t full to ensure they’re laundered as soon as possible. Gowns worn to see confirmed or potential COVID-19 cases should be placed in a red biohazard bag.
  • New testing guidelines have been released and shared with clinical staff. The primary change is that essential workers now only need to have a fever OR respiratory symptoms to qualify for testing, rather than both.
  • New return to work guidelines have also been released. If you are symptomatic, you must now wait 10 days from the onset of symptoms to return to work rather than 7 (and meet other requirements). If you are asymptomatic, you must wait 10 days from the date of your positive test to return to work.
  • The coronavirus.iowa.gov website has been updated with quite a few more data dashboards to provide the public with more information and allow them to better filter the data they need. Case numbers will also be reported more quickly, with 11 am numbers reflecting any new cases confirmed up to 11 pm the evening before.
  • Certain businesses will be allowed to reopen throughout Iowa effective 5/8, including dental offices, campgrounds, drive-in movie theaters, tanning salons, and medical spas, effective tomorrow.
  • There is a surge of misinformation circulating on the internet, especially conspiracy theories related to COVID-19. These conspiracy theories put the public and health care workers at risk by degrading trust in health care professionals. Be sure you are getting all of your information from reliable sources and never share something on social media unless you have read the entire article or watched the entire video and are confident it is accurate and from a reliable source.

May 6:

  • We are starting to run low on homemade cloth face masks. Donations at this time would be very much appreciated, so please help us spread the word. We would especially like larger face masks or ones that tie in the back.
  • The governor did not hold a press conference today, but new numbers were shared on coronavirus.iowa.gov.
    • Iowa total: 10,404
    • Madison County total: 10 (increase of 1)

May 5:

  • The disaster trailer in the ER parking lot that has been serving as our drive-up lab draw space will be going away today. Due to concrete work in the HTPC parking lot, the parking spaces are needed for patients. Temporarily, all patients needing labs drawn will need to come inside. When the concrete work outside the med/surg entrance is complete in a few days, that vestibule will serve as our new drive-up lab draw location.
  • The respiratory or “dirty” urgent care will be moving from the ambulance bay to room 11 on the med/surg floor as soon as concrete work begins near the ambulance bay. Patients should use the far south med/surg entrance which will be signed. Patients should continue to call first before visiting respiratory urgent care and will be given updated instructions on where to be seen. Watch for further updates on the timing of this change.
  • In exciting news, we are planning to resume elective surgeries on Monday and will be seeing our most low risk patients first.
  • There are now three operational TestIowa sites in Des Moines, Waterloo, and Sioux City and a fourth will be opening in Cedar Rapids on Thursday. If you have not yet completed your assessment, please visit www.testiowa.com and complete the short survey. If you qualify for testing (most health care workers do), please notify Cindy Frank when your test is scheduled. We are carefully monitoring all employee testing and potential illnesses so we can take proactive measures if necessary.

May 4:

  • As anticipated the State Hygienic Lab caught up on their backlog of tests over the weekend. 1,285 new confirmed cases were reported over the weekend and 17,098 tests were processed in total last week.
  • IDPH is currently reporting the following totals for Madison County:
    • 9 total confirmed cases
    • 1 death
    • 3 confirmed cases recovered
    • 142 people tested
  • We have received many questions about travel restrictions and quarantine and will be implementing the following policy –

Outside of the list below, we’d continue to encourage you when traveling to wear a mask in public, social distance, wash your hands frequently, and all the other things you routinely do to keep yourself safe.  Consider staying home if your trip is not essential; especially if you are at a higher risk of severe illness.  Don’t travel if you are sick or travel with someone who is sick.

 Staff MUST inform their leader if they are planning to travel to areas of concern listed below. Anyone traveling to these areas will be required to remain off work an additional 14 days to self-monitor.  

 Any Cruise (Domestic, International or River)

International Airline Travel/Travel Outside the U.S.

US Airline Travel

May 1:

  • Today the governor explained that the State Hygienic Lab is experiencing delays due to the increase in testing since the beginning of the TestIowa initiative. This issue is being addressed and test results are expected to be caught up this weekend.
  • Today the state is reporting 8 total confirmed cases and 105 total tests in Madison County. For the latest state and county-specific statistics, please visit www.coronavirus.iowa.gov.

April 30:

  • Evidence of community spread has been identified in Madison County. It is more important than ever that we wear appropriate PPE when we are at work and cloth face coverings any time we are in public. Masks must be worn covering both your mouth and nose to be effective.
  • If you have completed the TestIowa online assessment and qualified for testing, please contact Cindy Frank. We are carefully monitoring any employee illnesses and testing so we can ensure we have appropriate staffing and make other policy updates as necessary.
  • Concrete work will begin soon that will impact where we see potential COVID-19 cases (respiratory/”dirty” urgent care). Stay tuned for more information about those changes. The concrete work will begin in the HTPC parking lot on the northwest side of the building on Friday and when that section is complete, work will begin in the ambulance bay area. Respiratory urgent care will not be impacted immediately. Employees should continue to park in the west employee parking lot.

April 29:

  • Today Governor Reynolds gave an update on the TestIowa initiative. To date more than 229,000 Iowans have completed the assessment and 2,300 have had appointments scheduled for testing. Last weekend they did a soft launch for the Des Moines testing site and have completed 874 tests. A second testing site will open this weekend in Waterloo. Anyone having a test administered through the TestIowa initiative will need to bring the QR code they receive via email. This is how you will be matched to your test results. The governor also announced that additional testing would be made available for essential workers outside of the TestIowa initiative.

April 28:

  • Some employees are reporting difficulties getting scheduled for a test through the TestIowa platform. We are aware of the issues and are working on getting an update. If you’re having issues getting scheduled for a test please stay patient and wait for new testing times and sites to become operational.
  • Additional reopening instructions have been posted on coronavirus.iowa.gov for restaurants and farmers markets. Madison County is one of the areas where businesses will be able to resume with restrictions on May 1st. Dallas and Polk Counties will not be allowed to reopen on May 1st as they are experiencing greater numbers of confirmed cases. While we encourage you to support local businesses, please use your best judgement and continue to do so safely.
  • We continue to work toward safely and sustainably resuming elective surgeries. One of our most difficult challenges is ensuring we have access to enough PPE without any state support. Many of our existing suppliers have exhausted their inventories and securing reliable new vendors at this time is extremely difficult. If you have any suggestions for further decreasing our PPE consumption without jeopardizing staff or patient safety, please share it with your department manager or senior leadership.

April 27:

  • An updated PPE shortage order was issued this weekend. We were already taking a lot of these PPE conservation measures and will be shifting toward using more reusable gowns and reusable eye protection.
  • We are working toward being able to resume elective surgeries. To comply with all the required precautions, we will need to have access to rapid COVID-19 testing. We do not yet have rapid testing capabilities, but are working with MercyOne and are hoping to have access established this week.
  • The governor has announced that effective May 1st certain business will be able to reopen with requirements to maintain distancing and hygiene. Closures will continue in counties with a significant number of confirmed cases. Many categories of businesses will be required to only reopen at 50% capacity. Other closures will continue through May 15th. The full list of business categories allowed to reopen and their respective restrictions is available here https://governor.iowa.gov/press-release/gov-reynolds-signs-new-proclamation-continuing-the-state-public-health-emergency-0?fbclid=IwAR1a8N7PX58pwNy76jRr2pPSWysVnTWRIaektO4ECDO1ONC7VbGr08hoUqs.

April 24:

  • The data dashboard on the IDPH webpage has been taken down. The latest data, resources, and announcements can be found at www.coronavirus.iowa.gov and everyone is encouraged to look there first for information.
  • Today the governor announced that health care providers will be allowed to begin resuming elective surgeries on Monday as long as they can determine they can do so safely and meet a list of requirements.  The decision was made to begin phasing out certain restrictions because of increased testing and contract tracing capabilities. A peak is still expected in the next week or two according to the governor’s team. Hospital leadership is planning how and when we will implement these changes, so stay tuned for more information.

April 23:

  • We encourage everyone that hasn’t yet to complete the online assessment at testiowa.com. The governor reported today that over 121,000 Iowans have already completed the online assessment and all of the testing appointments for the first site opening this weekend are full. The state plans to open several additional testing locations rapidly and will be focusing on the goal of launching new locations in the coming week.
  • We have added a new patient-facing page to our website for COVID-19 information. A notification bar across the top of the website on each page notifies patients that we are still open to treat patients and directs them to this page for more information about our COVID-19 response. The page can also be found under the Services tab on the main navigation menu on the homepage. As we update or launch additional services, the information will be added here. Please feel free to send any suggestions for additions to this page or common questions from patients we can address to Laura at lleners@madisonhealth.com. This input is very helpful and much appreciated.

April 22:

  • We will be holding an additional COVID-19 drill tomorrow to allow more staff to participate and ensure we stay as prepared as possible.
  • We are strongly encouraging staff and their families to complete the TestIowa assessment. It just takes a few minutes and provides valuable data for the state to help control the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor reported that 80,000 Iowans took the assessment in the first day of the initiative’s launch. The assessment can be completed at testiowa.com.
  • The state announced today that the National Guard will be stepping in to help with wide scale testing for long term care facilities including sending strike teams to perform comprehensive testing at LTC facilities with outbreaks.

April 21:

  • Today Madison County announced its fourth confirmed COVID-19 case. This individual is not believed to pose a risk of exposure to the community or our facilities.
  • EveryStep Hospice has opened a new space in their Bright Kavanaugh facility in Des Moines to specifically care for COVID-19 patients needing end of life care. This new space will help get these patients out of the hospital setting and provide more comfort while still getting the supportive care they need.
  • We will receive an order of face masks from Emergency Management today and have secured orders from additional suppliers. Thank you to everyone for working hard to conserve our PPE and especially to Leslie for working hard to find new suppliers during this shortage.
  • Today the governor announced the launch of Test Iowa, a public/private partnership that will provide 540,000 additional tests for an additional 3,000 tests per day for the next 180 days. It will also help Iowa’s public health officials gather valuable information to better target mitigation efforts. Individuals will first complete an online questionnaire at testiowa.com, then get tested if they meet certain criteria including some who are asymptomatic. This initiative will also stand up additional drive-thru testing locations. The first testing location tied to this initiative will open Saturday in Des Moines. Iowa is the second state to launch this initiative with Utah being the first. All members of the public are encouraged to visit testiowa.com and complete the online assessment.

April 20:

  • The Iowa Medical Society has created a series of resources/webinars that are free and available to everyone working in health care.
    • Iowa Psychiatric Society:
      COVID-19 Resource Page (lots of great articles in the Wellness section if you scroll down)
    • Webinars:Facing the Frontlines: Caring for Yourself and Others During Crisis, Tuesday, April 21st, 7-8 pm
      Being Mentally Strong and Healthy in a Time of Crisis, Thursday, April 23rd, Noon-1 pm
      Adding Value During “Non-Essential” Time, Wednesday, April 29th, Noon – 1 pm

April 17:

  • MercyOne is working to have a new reference lab operational by the end of the month. This lab will be able to process tests to diagnose current cases, as well as antibody testing to confirm if someone previously had COVID-19.
  • Headspace is a great meditation app and is now offering free membership through the end of the year for health care professionals. Please see the email from Jenn Jackson earlier this morning for more information on how to sign up.
  • Today the governor announced that Iowa schools will not be reopening for the remainder of the school year. This will become an official mandate at the end of the current order, which expires on April 30. This also includes all spring sports seasons.

April 16:

  • Today clinical staff is participating in a COVID-19 drill to practice procedures and ensure we are prepared to care for a critically ill COVID-19 patient.
  • Today the governor announced a new initiative called Test Iowa, which will increase testing and contact tracing capabilities throughout the state. More details will be provided in the near future.
  • The governor also announced new antibody testing capabilities in Iowa. This will allow clinicians to determine if a patient has had and recovered from a case of COVID-19.

April 15:

  • This is a very uncertain time, which can cause a lot of stress and anxiety, but we have resources available to help. 24-7 access to Employee Assistance Programs is available to provide confidential resources providing no-cost counseling, information and referral services to help address personal, family or work-related concerns. EAP can be reached at 1-800-327-4692. All employees have access to unlimited phone-based services and up to 6 in person counseling sessions. You can also log onto eap.org to chat with someone online or schedule telehealth appointments.
  • If an employee has a temperature above 100.4 when they present to work they should be sent home, contact their manager, self-isolate and follow the IDPH guidelines for return to work, which we’d help you determine. However, if they are having difficulty breathing and need to be seen they should go around to the ambulance bay for evaluation in the “sick” urgent care.
  • We’ve received some questions about employees taking their own temps in the morning when coming to work. IDPH recommends that all employees come in one door and that we have a medical professional at the entrance to take temps and screen staff as well as all visitors and patients.
  • Tomorrow clinical staff will be performing a COVID-19 drill to practice procedures and ensure we are prepared to care for a critically ill COVID-19 patient.

April 14:

  • Sick patients should still receive medical-grade masks to wear, but healthy (non-infectious) patients should receive cloth masks.
  • We received 30 additional face shields from Emergency Management yesterday. Our supply levels are being monitored constantly to ensure we have an adequate supply.
  • Madison County announced their third confirmed case of COVID-19 today. This individual is a patient at a skilled care facility in Polk County and does not pose a risk to the community.
  • Today the governor reported an increase of positive cases in Iowa of 189, which is the highest increase to date. An outbreak has been identified at a meat processing plant in Louisa County, which accounted for 86 of those new cases.
  • Patient traffic through our drive-through urgent care/COVID-19 clinic remains slow but steady.

April 13:

  • Over the weekend, Madison County reported its second confirmed case of COVID-19 and its first death. At last update, the first confirmed case is still recovering in a hospital in Polk County and the second case is not believed to have posed a risk of exposure to the community prior to their death. There are no confirmed cases of community spread in Madison County
  • We have a need for some larger sized cloth face masks. If you or someone you know is able to produce homemade cloth masks, please consider donating some in larger sizes.

April 10:

  • If you stay home ill, please be sure Kim Hulbert or Cindy Frank is notified. Hospital leadership is carefully tracking illness and any potential COVID-19 cases among staff.
  • Today the governor issued a PPE Shortage Order requiring all health care facilities to take measures to decrease their consumption of PPE in response to the nationwide shortage. MCHCS has already taken many steps to ensure we are using our PPE responsibly. Leadership will review the new order and make any necessary policy changes to ensure our organization is compliant.
  • Today the governor reported that food insecurity in Iowa is up 65% over this time last year. Please consider donating to a local food pantry if you are able. If your family needs assistance, please visit coronavirus.iowa.gov for more information on available resources.

April 9:

  • The change in guidance strongly encouraging everyone to wear cloth masks in public, including our non-patient facing staff, was made due to a growing body of evidence that suggests the virus is spread before infected individuals show symptoms and by infected individuals who never develop symptoms. Helping patients and the public understand the reasoning behind this change may help increase compliance in our community.
  • This is a stressful time for everyone, but especially health care workers. MercyOne CEO Bob Ritz shared these six questions as an example of how he practices gratitude and help create a sense of well-being during difficult times –
    • What am I grateful for today?
    • Who am I checking in on or connecting with today?
    • What expectations of “normal” am I letting go of today?
    • How am I getting outside today?
    • How am I moving my body today?
    • What beauty am I creating, cultivating or inviting in today?
  • Easter gatherings with friends or family outside your immediate household should not take place this year. Even if everyone in your group feels well, there is potential for the spread of infection from pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic individuals. Try calling or video chatting with loved ones instead. Zoom offers a free basic account or you can use FaceTime on your iPhone.

April 8:

  • IDPH is reporting 97 new confirmed cases today for a total of 1,145 cases in the state of Iowa. The governor shared that the state is expected to see its peak number of cases in late April. She also shared a report of resources available in RMCC 1 (our region), included in body of email.
  • Earlier this week we launched telehealth services to the public. To schedule an appointment, patients are asked to call their home clinic as normal and request a telehealth appointment. Their care team will then determine if a telehealth visit is appropriate for the care they need. We are also working on the ability to offer additional telehealth services including drive-up bloodwork.
  • Hospital leadership continues to monitor staffing, supplies, and policies as well as work closely with our county and state partners to ensure we are as prepared as possible to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 7:

  • In addition to screening patients and staff for symptoms at the door, staff has begun distributing masks. Patients and patient facing staff will receive medical-grade masks and non-patient facing staff will receive sewn cloth masks.
    • As a reminder, non-medical cloth masks must be taken home each day and washed in the hot cycle with your normal laundry detergent. Masks should also be machine dried on high heat.

April 6:

  • Effective immediately, all patient facing staff will be required to wear masks during the work day (level 1 yellow masks) – full PPE should continue to be worn by clinical staff interacting with potential COVID-19 patients. All other staff is being strongly encouraged to wear non-medical fabric masks during the work day and will be provided one by the hospital.
    • MercyOne defines patient facing as a colleague who is performing “essential” duties and is performing patient facing duties as outlined below, but not limited to:
      • Physicians, Physician Assistant’s & Nurse Practitioners
      • Nurses, & Nursing Support colleagues i.e. CNAs etc.
      • Respiratory Services, Rehab Services (PT/OT/SLP)
      • Case Management, Social Work, unit-based Pharmacists, Dieticians, Lab technicians on the unit
      • Personnel engaged in Diagnostic Procedures, Screening Procedures (including colleague screening), Surgical Services, Ambulance Services
      • Environmental Colleagues, Food & Nutrition Services/catering associates, Transportation, other ancillary services who have contact with patients
      • Patient registration, Information Desks
    • For non-patient facing staff receiving a non-medical fabric mask, masks must be taken home each day and washed in the hot cycle with your normal laundry detergent. Masks should also be machine dried on high heat.
  • Effective immediately, we will no longer be holding any in-person meetings of any size. This includes all clinical continuing education classes. Our standard office phones have the ability to conference in up to four people. To use this function, dial your first participant normally, then press the conference button, dial your next number, and press the conference button again to add them to the call. Continue this process until all participants are on the line.
  • A shelter-in-place order has not been given for our state. The governor has closed additional non-essential businesses. The full list can be found at – https://governor.iowa.gov/press-release/gov-reynolds-signs-new-proclamation-continuing-state-public-health-emergency-3.
  • If shelter-in-place is ordered, hospital staff will need to keep their badge on them when travelling to work in order to prove they are essential personnel.
  • We continue to look at staffing levels and make adjustments as necessary. Staff with any questions should speak with their department manager. You may also reach out to Jennifer Jackson in HR at ext. 230 with questions.
  • Senior team leadership is beginning to work from home on an alternating basis to ensure adequate leadership stays healthy to guide the organization through the next several weeks of the pandemic.

April 3:

  • COVID-19 FAQ’s for employees will be added to the employee intranet later today. These include common questions about resources available to employees, hospital policies, and unemployment benefits.
  • Additional providers have successfully completed telehealth appointments and we’ve received approval for Senior Life Solutions to continue seeing their patients utilizing telehealth. We continue to work toward rolling this new service out to the community and making additional services available virtually.
  • We’ve submitted a request to the state through Emergency Management for 30 additional face shields. Our other supply levels remain adequate.

April 2:

  • We continue to maintain good supplies of PPE. We were beginning to run low on booties, but Leslie has been able to order more through one of our normal suppliers.
  • New GL’s have been created to help track expenses related to our COVID-19 response – one for salaries (employee time) and one for expenses. More information to come.
  • Please be sure if you are using Zoom for hospital business that you check with IT and are using the hospital’s account which has additional security. There are many reports of free/basic Zoom accounts being hacked.
  • Some of our providers successfully conducted their first telehealth appointments this week. We began by seeing patients whose appointments were cancelled in the last few weeks and are planning to announce it to the public next week.

March 31:

  • Yesterday we received a significant supply of PPE from the state including isolation gowns, N95 masks, level 1 masks, and face shields. We have measures in place to conserve PPE while maintaining appropriate infection control measures and have adequate supply levels for the foreseeable future. We are able to order in smaller quantities from our normal suppliers on a regular basis, as well.
  • IDPH is still reporting zero confirmed cases in Madison County, which is great news.
  • Please continue to follow social distancing guidelines and discuss them with your children. Many employees have witnessed large groups of kids gathered around town and even what appeared to be an organized sports practice with adults present. This is unacceptable and it’s important our children understand why. While we don’t believe these were members our employees’ families, it is important that we set the example for our community.

March 30:

  • Please do not use the front desk for any pick-ups or exchanges of a personal nature.
  • Please continue to practice social distancing. Some best practices include –
    • Stay home and only spend time with members of your household (no visits to grandparents, friends, neighbors)
    • Go into public for essentials only (food, medicine) and limit trips to once per week or less
    • Send only one person from your household shopping and especially leave children at home
    • Stay at least six feet away from others when you must go into public

March 27:

  • If you receive any questions about positive, negative, or pending tests, how many patients we’ve been testing, or any related topics from the public, here is some recommended scripting:

Outbreaks like this are considered public health events and public health policy is to not share details about facilities performing testing or providing treatment.                    Daily updates about testing results are provided by the Iowa Department of Public Health on their website each day around lunch time. I recommend you check                    there for the latest information.

It’s also okay to tell people that there are no confirmed cases in Madison County at this time (hopefully that remains true), but please try to make it clear that you are                referencing IDPH reports, not personal knowledge.

March 26:

  • As a reminder, please do not share any information about positive, negative, or pending tests that implies personal knowledge about MCHCS patients. The only numbers that are public knowledge are IDPH reported statistics. Because of heightened public interest, we must be extra cautious about how statements from hospital staff might be perceived, even if they’re not intended to share any privileged information.
  • IDPH has provided updated testing guidelines. The primary change is an expanded definition of essential personnel. Updated guidance has been shared with clinical staff.

March 25:

  • Effective Thursday, March 26, we will no longer be allowing visitors. Some exceptions may be made for extenuating circumstances by the nurse manager on duty on a case-by-case basis, primarily for patients receiving end of life care. Nursing staff should contact Kim Hulbert or Cindy Frank with questions.
  • We are awaiting results on a few pending tests, but at this time there are still no confirmed positives in Madison County.

March 24:

  • We are anticipating a delivery of PPE from the state sometime this week, so will not be asking for any additional donations of hand sewn face masks at this time. If anyone has already made some, we will happily accept the donation, but there is no need to create more at this point. We have additional orders coming from our normal suppliers later, as well.
  • You will notice staff from many outpatient departments helping out in other critical areas of the hospital. We are very appreciative of everyone’s flexibility during this unusual time and are working hard to ensure our facilities are staffed as efficiently as possible.

March 23:

  • We are currently accepting donations of hand sewn face masks. Over the weekend MercyOne shared that they would be accepting these, but then changed their guidance. We feel that hand sewn masks are beneficial to extend the lifespan of N95 masks  and are good to have on hand in case of shortages, so will continue to accept these.
  • New guidance from the Iowa Department of Public Health on Saturday indicates that anyone who traveled outside of the state of Iowa this past week should stay home and self-isolate for 14 days.  Anyone who this affects will need to take PTO for the first week of isolation.
  • For coffee pots and dispensers in the temporary cafeteria, waiting rooms, or any other common spaces, please do not use any refillable cups and do not refill any containers. Please use the disposable cups provided.

March 19:

  • Effective 3/20 all employees will transition to a casual dress code. For all clinical staff this means scrubs and for non-clinical staff this will be similar to “jeans day for a cause” attire. The most important consideration is that any clothing worn should be machine washable and dryable on high heat. This is another way we can help ensure we are minimizing potential spread in our community. Employee appearance should continue to be neat and professional.
  • Please note that if/when Madison County has its first positive COVID-19 case; we will begin screening all employees before entering the facility. This will include screening questions and recording temperatures. More information to come.
  • Employee Assistance Programs available 24/7: 24-7 access to Employee Assistance Programs is available to provide confidential resources providing no-cost counseling, information and referral services to help address personal, family or work-related concerns. EAP can be reached at 1-800-327-4692. This includes unlimited phone-based services and up to 6 in person counseling sessions.
  • Stepping Stones daycare is staying open and is willing to work with people so that essential health care staff have access to childcare and can continue to work. They have several openings for school aged children, but are limited on taking additional infants and toddlers. Any employees needing childcare assistance can call the owner, Angie, at (515) 462-5831.
  • It’s essential that all staff practice the best possible hygiene: Cover coughs and sneezes with your sleeve, elbow, or a tissue. Used tissues should be disposed of immediately after use. Patients are extremely sensitive to any perceived symptoms during this time, so it’s important we are seen to be taking every possible precaution.

March 18:

  • IDPH Reporting – On 3/17 IDPH reported six additional positive cases of COVID-19 in Iowa for a total of 29. One was the first confirmed case in Adair County and another was an additional case in Dallas County.
  • Childcare – Parents, or grandparents if they are primary caregiver, needing assistance finding childcare should call Childcare Resource and Referral hotline number to secure information about Madison County at 855-244-5301 and additional information is available at https://iowaccrr.org/.
  • Financial Relief – Resources are available and additional relief packages are being considered by government for individuals affected by COVID-19, including those that have been required to quarantine or have been temporarily laid off. If you or your family has been affected, please reach out to Jenn Jackson in HR for more information.

MCHCS Updates:

  • Elective surgeries will be cancelled to both protect patients and conserve important PPE supplies.
  • The specialty clinics that normally operate out of Health Trust Physicians Clinic (ortho, oncology, cardiology) will now operate out of the specialty clinic near Med/Surg.
  • The door by materials maintenance will remain locked moving forward and all delivery drivers will be asked to check in at the main ER entrance for screening before being cleared to make deliveries. Signage has been posted and relevant staff has been notified of the new procedure.
  • Due to the cancellation or significant reduction in many services across MCHCS, staff is being reassigned to assist in critical areas. When that is not possible, department managers should utilize low census protocol. Staff working in a different department or role because of this should complete a time study logging hours worked and in what function and submit them to payroll at the end of the pay period. Forms will be distributed electronically to department managers.
  • Clinical testing guidelines have changed and will likely continue to change. Clinical staff can quickly access the latest testing guidelines here – http://www.shl.uiowa.edu/dcd/covid19.xml. At this time a fever is being defined as a temperature of 100.4 or above.
  • Please be sure to monitor your own health and stay home if you are sick. If you have any questions please discuss them with your department manager.
  • Our cardiology and pain management visiting specialists have cancelled their visits to our facility. We will include any additional cancellations in future updates.

March 17:

  • IDPH Reporting – As of 3/17 IDPH is reporting 23 positive cases in Iowa, including 2 cases in Dallas and 1 in Polk County. The cases in Dallas and Polk County have been identified as caused by community spread. They are not reporting any positive cases in Madison County at this time.
  • 15 Days to Slow the Spread – On 3/16 the White House & CDC released the president’s coronavirus guidelines for America, which is linked here – https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
  • State of Iowa Updates – The office of the Governor announced on 3.16 that the State Hygienic Lab expanded their testing capacity by adding a second shift as they anticipate positive cases to increase.

MCHCS Updates:

  • The Med/Surg entrance on the west side of the building will be closing at 4:30 pm each day. All patients and visitors should enter through the main ER entrance where staff will be available to screen them during off-peak hours. Signage will be posted on the Med/Surg door.
  • There has been an influx of people seeking doctor’s notes for their employer, either for permission to go back to work or permission to stay home. We will not be providing these in order to focus on providing care to patients. Letters informing employers that we will not be providing notes for employees and recommending they refer to CDC guidelines instead will be provided on our website, on Facebook, and hard copies at admitting desks later today.
  • Please be mindful of what you share on social media in the upcoming weeks and do not post any photos from our facilities. Messaging and images that may seem commonplace or even lighthearted to us can be misconstrued by the public. If you have any questions, please reference our social media policy available on PolicyStat (linked on the employee intranet) or discuss them with your department manager.
  • We have had a few questions from individuals questioning whether they have been exposed to COVID-19 not at the hospital, but through indirect contact (friend of a friend, etc.) with one of the confirmed cases in Dallas or Polk County. If you have been identified as a contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19, you will be contacted directly by public health authorities with instructions. If you have not been contacted, you should not consider yourself exposed.
  • Senior Life Solutions will be cancelling group therapy sessions, but will continue to see patients on an individual basis.
  • Health & Rehab Services will be cancelling phase 3 cardiac rehab, but will continue phase 1 and 2 cardiac rehab in smaller numbers.

March 16:

  • IDPH Reporting – As of 3/15 IDPH is reporting 22 positive cases in Iowa, including cases in Dallas and Polk County. The cases in Dallas and Polk County have been identified as caused by community spread.
  • CDC Mass Gathering Guidance – On 3/15 the CDC updated its mass gathering guidance to postpone for the next 8 weeks any events with 50 or more people.

MCHCS Updates:

  • SEA Training has been temporarily suspended and is being rescheduled now for future dates.
  • Volunteer shifts have also been cancelled. As a result there will be no snack breaks and lunch will be cold items only so that Dietary staff is available to run the cash register.
  • We are asking that all employees review their upcoming meetings and cancel any that can be rescheduled.
  • As you have likely already noticed, all patients and visitors are being screened immediately upon entering the facility. Patients with possible COVID-19 symptoms or risk factors are being seen & treated separately from other patients to limit exposure.
  • Employees in Patient Accounts, HIM, & Accounting will be receiving guidance from their department managers about working from home.
  • If you have concerns about a potential exposure or childcare issues related to COVID-19, please contact Jenn Jackson in HR.
  • We apologize for the inconvenience, but there should be absolutely no employee visitors, especially children for their own safety and the safety of our patients.