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Arizona hospitals facing challenges with healthcare delivery and it's not just due to COVID-19

ADHS says there are currently 5% of inpatient and 6% of ICU beds open across the state. COVID-19 patients are impacting delivery of medical care for all patients.

PHOENIX — Arizona hospitals are currently facing a harsh and very real reality. Currently, the Arizona Department of Health Services dashboard reported that 33% of emergency department beds are available, along with 5% of inpatient beds and 6% of ICU beds across the state. 

“If the surge which is currently at exponential growth continues at its current pace, this will become a very dire situation,” said Banner Health's Chief Clinical Officer, Dr. Marjorie Bessel during a Thursday press conference. 

Banner Health is the state's largest healthcare provider

Dr. Bessel provided a breakdown of what her hospitals are currently facing across Arizona. 

Phoenix (Valley) Hospitals: 

In November, COVID-19 hospitalizations increased 93%.

ICU occupancy increased by 50% with COVID-19 patients occupying 50% of the ICU compared to 25% at the beginning of the month. Dr. Bessel said that ICU demand is "almost all related to COVID patients."

Ventilator use increased by 120% for COVID patients. 

Across the Valley, COVID-19 patients occupy 28% of all hospitalized beds for the Banner Health system.

Tucson Hospitals: 

COVID-19 hospitalizations increased by 95% in November.

Ventilator use in Tucson increased by 200% which D.r Bessel said is "mainly driven by COVID patients."

Valleywise Health

Valleywise Health is experiencing long wait times in its emergency department due to the influx of patients. 

“The working conditions themselves are just tough,” said ICU nurse Emily Carter. 

Valleywise Health and other hospitals across the state are experiencing a staffing shortage which impacts the ability to care for patients even if a bed is open. 

Carter said the current surge is a reminder of the beginning of the pandemic. 

“We would just cry on our way home from work every day," said Carter. "We’d stumble into the breakroom, and someone would be in there having a breakdown and then you get it together and go back in and take of your patients because that’s your job.”  

Honor Health

In November, Honor Health also experienced increases in the demand for health care. In a tweet, they asked for the community's help.

"Please help support our healthcare heroes by committing to preventive measures for COVID-19, including vaccination, appropriate masking, and hand hygiene," the tweet said. "It's also important to get a flu vaccine."

Dignity Health

"Our wait times are becoming longer, however, it’s difficult to provide a specific number as they fluctuate and can change at any given time," said a representative of Dignity. "It’s important to note that individuals in need of urgent and emergent medical treatment should not delay care. Those with mild medical matters should consider seeking care at an urgent care facility or with their primary care physician to avoid long wait times. Our ERs prioritize patients with the highest and most urgent medical conditions."

When it comes to surgical procedures, Dignity is also continuing to modulate due to the continued capacity constraints. 

The system has also asked that people take precautionary measures to ensure their own health as well as the health of others. 

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