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THIS WEEK: The critical condition at one Quad City hospital

The medical director says the hospital is under a "huge stress" due to COVID-19

ROCK ISLAND, Illinois — It's a scene seldom, if ever, seen at UnityPoint Trinity Medical Center.

"I would say the hospital is under huge stress."

The hospital's chief medical officer, Dr. Toyosi Olutade, said Trinity, with ICU beds in Rock Island and Bettendorf, is hitting nearly full capacity with COVID cases alone.

It's stretching resources hospital-wide.

"Besides that we have patients all over the hospital with COVID-19," Dr. Olutade said on "News 8 This Week with Jim Mertens".

"And we have about 100 patients and that is just beyond the resources we usually have around the hospital which is why we shut down elective surgeries so that we can take care of patients," he added.

Critical care is hitting a critical moment

It's not just UnityPoint-Trinity.

"Our health care system is being pushed to the brink," said Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds while announcing new statewide health guidelines that includes a greater use of face masks.

Both Illinois and Iowa are seeing spikes in new COVID cases which then translates to increases in hospitalizations, then ICU cases, and then, sadly, an increase in deaths.

"We are actually worried that we won't have a bed for everyone to be in the hospital so we need to stop infection transmission," explained Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. 

" Any time there's a gathering there is a chance for infection transmission and we are falling short."

But that starts outside the hospital.  Prevention begins in your home and your community.

So what is going on inside the hospital walls of area medical centers?

"There is real, true suffering..."

"We're all exhausted and it's easy to get rundown and defeated and kinda feel like you are alone," said nurse Bridget Otto.

She is an Iowa City ICU nurse, one of the thousands of front line medical workers trying to save patients while staying safe themselves.

"I just want people to know that there is a real, true suffering out there and it is a direct result of this virus. And that it's not if you'll be affected someday, it's when."

And their jobs are getting harder as hospital beds are filling up.

In western Illinois, 35% of surgical beds are filled and 35% of ICU beds are being used right now.

It's well above the state's 20-percent threshold.

And in Iowa, the number of ICU patients is spiking, growing rapidly since the start of November.

Inside a Quad City ICU

That's what's also being seen at UnityPoint-Trinity in the Quad Cities.

"Right now we have 20-plus patients on the breathing machine," explained Dr. Olutade.

"On a good day, when we have people on the breathing machine, they'll spend 3-4 days.  People with COVID spend 15-days, a month, on the breathing machines."

And some patients aren't lying on their ack to recover.

"Some of them are flipped upside down because that's the only way that their lungs can get some room to breathe a little bit," he said.

Dr. Olutade is most concerned about the next two weeks... especially if this surge becomes even worse due to Thanksgiving family gatherings.

"If we continue on that trajectory my concern is that we won't have the resources to take care of patients."

You can watch "News 8 This Week with Jim Mertens" Sunday mornings at 10 on WQAD News 8.