Polk County Medical Coordination Center Media Release: MercyOne Des Moines and UnityPoint Health – Des Moines seeing high patient volumes

(Des Moines, IA) – Over the past week, MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center and UnityPoint Health – Des Moines have seen an increase in patient volume. The Polk County Medical Coordination Center would like to remind the community about the importance of utilizing their primary care or urgent care locations instead of the emergency department.

MercyOne Des Moines and UnityPoint Health – Des Moines are experiencing very long wait times in the emergency departments. If you need healthcare in the next week or so, call your primary care provider first rather than going straight to the emergency department, unless it is an emergency. Do not hesitate to go to the ER or call 9-1-1 if you or a loved one experience any of the following:

  • Chest pain or any symptoms of a heart attack, including severe chest pain, sweating and shortness of breath. Heart attack symptoms can vary from one person to the next.
  • Poisoning
  • Head injury
  • Choking
  • Open fractures
  • Symptoms of a stroke including sudden dizziness, weakness, loss of coordination, balance and vision problems.
  • Severe lacerations (cuts)
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sudden or severe abdominal pain
  • Sudden or severe headache
  • Injuries as a result of a car accident
  • Uncontrolled fever
  • Foreign body in eye

Medical care providers are doing the best to serve you and your family members. Patient volume is high, and we are seeing individuals who are very sick and requiring more care. If you choose to come to the emergency department, please know you may be waiting longer than usual. Patients are seen according to how sick they are and not who arrives first.

In addition to COVID-19, hospitals are experiencing multiple types of illnesses such as RSV, strep, and strains of illnesses typically seen in winter and traumas resulting in these high patient volumes.

We encourage the community to follow the below steps to mitigate the stresses on our healthcare systems:

  • Call your primary care provider or utilize telehealth instead of going directly to an emergency department. Your primary care provider will help you assess your situation and direct you to the best place to seek care based on your condition.
  • Follow COVID-19 prevention methods: wash your hands, cover your cough, and stay home when you are sick.
  • If you are in a life-threatening situation, call 911.



COVID-19 Call Center for eligible individuals WITHOUT computer or internet access, please call 515-323-5221 Monday – Friday 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM.