CCHS Monitors Capacity, Services, and Regional Communications

November 13, 2020

Atlantic, IA—Cass County Health System officials want to update the community about the status of the local hospital in regards to its operating capacity and current operations.

“We’ve been running between 50 to 75 percent inpatient bed capacity for the past several weeks now. COVID inpatient numbers have fluctuated greatly. At the most, we’ve had up to slightly more than 50% of our inpatients here due to COVID,” said CEO Brett Altman. “At this point in time, we are able to staff to our full capacity of 25 beds. Our entire team has been amazing throughout this year, and everyone has pitched in extra to make sure we are ready to serve our patients.”

All CCHS clinics and services are currently open with the exception of cardiac rehab, which was suspended to keep high-risk patients safe and to redeploy nurses to inpatient care. Depending on daily inpatient census and case mix, CCHS is also evaluating each non-emergent, elective surgery that would require hospitalization afterward on a case-by-case basis.

“We have to be as nimble as possible during this pandemic, so that our entire health system can swiftly respond to the staffing needs in our hardest hit departments. Cross-training and redeploying staff is one of the most important aspects of our surge plan,” said Chief Clinic Administrator Tammy Bireline.

Bireline continued, “All patients with respiratory illness symptoms will continue to be seen in the respiratory care clinic. Those patients will now enter at the Emergency Department entrance on the south side of the hospital and check in at the Emergency Department admissions office.”

CCHS officials continue to work through other components of their surge plan to prepare for the future. This includes frequently communicating with other hospitals in the region and across the state.

“We talk daily with Omaha, Council Bluffs, and Des Moines hospitals. It’s often because they want to transfer patients to us. We’ve accepted some of those patients, and we’ll continue to accept appropriate cases so long as we are able to provide care for our own service area,” said Altman.

Altman noted that all hospitals are under a considerable amount of strain. “Every hospital is stretched – large and small. That’s why we ask everyone to do their part and follow the recommendations from the Iowa Department of Public Health to slow the spread and prevent hospitals from getting overwhelmed,” he said.

IDPH recommendations include:
• Wash your hands often, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Stay at least six feet from others at all times.
• Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others.
• Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.

Current data about COVID-19 in Cass County and Iowa can be found online at