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Banner Health activates surge plans at several facilities in Arizona

Surge plans were activated as Banner Health says they’re still caring for about half of those hospitalized with COVID-19 in Arizona.

MARICOPA COUNTY, Ariz. — The largest healthcare system in Arizona says many of their hospitals are activating their surge plans.

Banner Health says Banner Desert Medical Center, among others, is activating the plans to handle more patients. 

The change comes as Banner Health says they’re still caring for about half of those hospitalized with COVID-19 in Arizona.

The plans involve focusing on areas like beds, staffing, equipment and supplies.

Cardon Children’s Medical Center next-door to Banner Desert has floors that have been converted to house overflow adult non-COVID-19 patients according to the spokesperson.

“I don’t know that any hospital is going to be exempt,” Robin Schaeffer, Executive Director of the Arizona Nurses Association said.

Schaeffer said the number of patients in hospitals is taking a toll on frontline workers.

“Our nurses are fatigued they’re tired the nurses who are ICU nurses are being asked to work extra shifts,” Schaeffer said.

Banner Health said they’ve brought in an additional 200 contracted staff to help out.

“Patients are so complex,” Schaeffer said. “People that are in the ICU, they have a breathing tube or on a ventilator, they could be on dialysis because their kidneys are failing they are on multiple medications and a lot of other tubes.”

According to data from the Arizona Department of Health Services, inpatient beds across hospitals in Arizona have gone up 14% over the past month.

“We really don’t have a lot of wiggle room right now,” Dr. Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist with the University of Arizona said.

Popescu said with the statistics being seen in Arizona, other hospitals across the state could follow Banner Health’s lead soon.

“I think it’s very likely hospitals are either going to have to activate or seriously consider activating surge capacity right now,” Popescu said.

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