Doctor says his Iowa hospital is ‘drowning’ in Covid and pleads people to get vaccine

By Clara Hill
Lance VanGundy

A doctor in Iowa has urged people to get vaccinated against Covid-19 in light of swamped intensive care units.

Dr Lance VanGundy, the ER director of Unitypoint Health, a hospital in Marshalltown, Iowa, has posted a video on Facebook asking people to get vaccinated, evoking the image of the swarmed hospital wards he witnesses day in and day out.

“Like, I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t say something,” Dr VanGundy said at the beginning of the clip. “This Covid is awful. You guys know that there’s so much misinformation out there.

“We are drowning in people who are dying with this illness, but I have yet to admit as a single person because of a vaccine-related incident.”

He outlined he was not trying to be “political” but emphasised that the scenes he was seeing at work were unprecedented in his 20 year medical career.

Dr VanGundy said his hospital’s ICU is full of Covid patients, therefore making it extremely difficult for patients with other illnesses to get treatment. He acknowledged he knew everyone was tired of discussing the coronavirus, noting that he was too.

“And when people get political about it, and try to pretend this doesn’t affect them, they’re wrong,” he said into the camera. “Even if you get a mild illness and you pass it on to somebody else, that’s a hospital bed that I can’t send a hip fracture to, or a heart attack to.

“I had to hold on to a meningitis case, a stroke case, a heart attack, And a blood clot in the lung,” Dr VanGundy said, before saying all the intensive care units in Iowa were full.

According to data from the Iowa Department of Health, the rate of Covid hospitalisations is creeping towards levelsnot seen since the end of the peak at the beginning of 2021. At the last update, 539 were admitted to hospital. On January 14, 532 people were admitted, according to The Gazette.

More than 90 per cent of Covid-19 patients in ICUs are not vaccinated, and unvaccinated people account for 82.4 per cent of total hospitalisations in the state, according to the data. Among those over 18 years old, 64.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.

He ended the video by saying: “Get your shots and help people that you know and love, they need to get their shots. That’s the only way we’re going to fix this thing. Thanks.”

Dr VanGundy told The Independent that he thought his message would only “impact his small pond, but sometimes you toss a stone and the ripples are greater than intended.”

“Our story us not unique and certainly pales compared to more urban centers like NY, Miami, Dallas and LA but right now I can’t imagine practicing in the wake of hurricane Ida. Those folks... truly inspiring,” he said.

Despite questions about the vaccines’ protection against threats, such as the Delta variant, senior public health officials have also stated the importance of getting vaccinated against Covid.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the available vaccines were “quite effective” against the Delta variant.

“But remember, even when you have variants that do diminish somewhat the efficacy of vaccines, the vaccine still are quite effective,” he told reporters on 2 September.


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