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Phoenix Banner Health hospitals diverting patients due to backlog

Right now, Banner hospitals in Phoenix are turning away patients arriving via ambulance.
Banner Health
Updated: Dec. 30, 2020 at 9:10 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona now has more than half a million COVID-19 cases with nearly one-third of those registered this month alone. A surge that is leading to hospital diversions.

“When multiple hospitals in the same area need to go on diversion at the same time, it is very concerning. For those seeking care, you may need to be transferred to a hospital that is further away from your home, and you will experience longer wait times, " said Banner Health’s Chief Clinical Officer, Marjorie Bessel.

Bessel said right now Banner hospitals in Phoenix are turning away patients arriving via ambulance.

“Hospitals will be assigned times when they’ll be on diversion while others will remain opened. This process will help balance load so that no one hospital or health system is overwhelmed with an overload of patients,” Bessel added.

Banner’s ICU occupancy is 170 percent more than what it typically is during the winter, but the health system is still accepting walk-ins.

“The reason that we divert ambulance traffic is because we can be in close with those ambulances as they are arriving, and divert them more quickly to other emergency departments that have more bandwidth. Those that come in by foot will be taken in because we know its difficult to get them quickly to another place that has room,” Bessel explained.

As of Tuesday, Banner’s licensed bed capacity was at 104% statewide.

“A patient who has COVID has an ICU-stay 3 to 4-times of a non-COVID patient. That is creating a significant burden on our ICU’s,” Bessel said.

Aiming to expand hospital capacity, Bessel said more healthcare workers are on their way.

“We’re working to re-deploy staff and transfer supplies from our Colorado and Wyoming markets to support the Arizona surge.”

Officials said Banner patients could be transferred to different cities in Arizona, or even out of the state, to balance the load while providing the best care to their patients.

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