THIS WEEK: Are we ready for the surge?

Local hospitals prepare for an increase in patients over the next three weeks

ROCK ISLAND, Ill. — UnityPoint Trinity Health set up an "incident command" weeks ago to prepare for an increase in COVID-19 patients this Spring.

Then, and ever since, health experts have tried to use the data today to forecast the coronavirus impact tomorrow.

"When we model these things out, what the ultimate surge might look like, and at this point we're pretty confident of the health care systems working together within the Quad City, Muscatine, and Sherrard areas are going to be able to handle this surge," said Robert Erickson, president and Chief Executive Officer of UnityPoint Trinity Health said on "News 8 THIS WEEK with Jim Mertens".

A possible peak in COVID-19 cases in the Quad City area is expected in late-April to early-May.

Genesis Health says it's also been preparing for weeks by ending several operations including elective surgeries..

"We're a big operation but we shut much of that operation down dramatically and freed up thousands of people to be able to surge up COVID-19 patients," said Doug Cropper, president/CEO of Genesis Health in an interview earlier this month.

When might elective surgeries start again?  It's one of the questions posed in our NEWS 8 THIS WEEK EXTRA interview with Robert Erickson on Facebook at WQAD Jim Mertens.

Each hospital system is treating COVID-19 patients by isolating them from other people in the hospital.

But treatments have varied depending on the health of those admitted.

"Many recover, many do very well," explained Erickson.

"Unfortunately the way this disease process works, we some that go to critical care and are in the ICU and so there's a fair amount we see on a daily basis on ventilators."

Hospitals have imposed restrictions throughout their buildings to limit the spread of the virus.

Erickson said it's been a difficult decision to limit the visits of loved ones at Trinity.

"We're doing everything we can to make sure people are safe."

That includes daily assessments of the rate of infection, and the ability for medical centers to handle it.

"We're all in this as a community and we'll all get through this as a community."