Iowa Hospitals, State Officials Spar Over Data

November 20, 2020

Hospitals probably have never been under as much scrutiny as they have since the COVID-19 pandemic struck in March, and state and local health officials – not to mention the general public – have never been as interested in information related to hospital issues and the resurgent pandemic. But how much data are hospitals required to share? Hospital and government officials in Iowa are embroiled in that debate as COVID-19 cases rise.


As Iowa sees a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations, the state will not allow local public health departments to release data from specific hospitals, according to KCCI. The state gathers data from individual hospitals on the Iowa Health Alert Network. The data includes data on hospital capacity and resources, but the Iowa Department of Public Health will not allow local public health officials to release the information to the public.


The data available to the public only includes hospital bed information across the state or a region. This data could give that information for specific hospitals and counties. Iowa’s COVID-19 public data portal does not give information about hospital staffing. Gov. Kim Reynolds said recently that staffing shortages are causing hospitals to reach capacity rather than available bed space. This data could give that information for specific hospitals and counties.


The state said the data stored on the Iowa Health Alert Network is considered confidential because it “constitutes information concerning physical infrastructure, critical infrastructure, and emergency preparedness developed, maintained, or held by the Department for the protection of life or property.”

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