INDEPENDENCE, Iowa — Hospitals in Independence and other towns along the path of an annual Iowa bike ride are preparing for a possible influx of people later this month.
Up to 10,000 riders and another 10,000 followers are expected to pedal through the towns in the Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa — also known as RAGBRAI. The bicyclists will overnight in Independence, Mason City, Waverly and other communities when they make the 418-mile trek around northeast Iowa July 20-26.
Buchanan County officials say they can reasonably assume at least a small percentage of the crowd will require medical attention when they ride into Independence, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (http://bit.ly/1oRcFBn ) reported.
During the 2007 RAGBRAI, the hospital in Independence served an additional 90 patients — most succumbing to heat-related ailments.
The emergency room sees between 20 and 30 patients on a typical day.
"Thirty-one is a busy day for us," said Stan Slessor, CEO of the Buchanan County Health Center in Independence.
Dr. Khalique Panhwar is medical director for the Waverly Health Center and helped his hospital plan for the influx. Panhwar will be on call July 24 when the riders camp around town.
RAGBRAI officials have told the Waverly Health Center to expect up to 60 additional patients in their emergency room. On a normal day, they serve about 40.
"This probably will be our busiest day we've ever seen," Panhwar said.
The bike ride itself has a traveling medical team with doctors and paramedics that patrol the route.
Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com