Senator Mark Kelly tours Tucson Medical Center at height of pandemic

Senator Mark Kelly tours Tucson Medical Center at height of pandemic

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) -Senator Mark Kelly took a tour of the Tucson Medical Center on Thursday, Jan. 14. In a news conference after the tour, he called it “a valuable experience” he can take back to Washington D.C.

While TMC CEO Judy Rich said the senator’s visit was a morale boost for staff at TMC, it was also a working visit as they try to figure out ways to keep a new antibody treatment in Tucson.

TMC is one of three places in the nation to deliver a new monoclonal antibody treatment for COVID-19. HHS has been staffing the clinic to deliver the medication, but the federal staffing will run out on Sunday, Jan. 17. The clinic delivering the experimental drug at TMC was one of the stops for Kelly on his tour.

“It’s a similar treatment to what the president received,” said Kelly.

Bringing in Kelly could help the hospital continue the treatment. TMC said they need more waivers for staffing and help from ADHS. They estimated about 10 trained and licensed staff are needed to keep the clinic running.

“We are hoping to continue the monoclonal antibody clinic that HHS has been staffing for us the last 7-8 days, and we have some ideas he may be able to help with,” said Rich.

Aside from help to keep the treatment in Tucson, the hospital hopes what senator Kelly saw in their ICU, vaccine clinic and will be shared in D.C.

“I’m not so sure how many of my senate colleagues have visited an ICU, probably some of them, but clearly not all of them, and I can share that experience with them,” said Kelly.

“I think he’s going to have many opportunities when he gets back to Washington to weigh in, to express an opinion, to explain the gravity of what he saw, and to make sure the appropriate resources are available,” said Rich.

While hospitals are still incredibly busy, TMC says they have seen a small plateau in patients. And every one of the 200 patients given the monoclonal treatment, has been able to head home.

Kelly was in Phoenix earlier in the week speaking with small businesses. During his time at TMC, he commented on the Capitol riots and impeachment process.

“In my opinion, it was an insurrection, and we need to hold individuals accountable for what happened, part of that process happened yesterday,” said Kelly, later calling the events on Jan. 6 a “riot” and an “insurrection.”

He continued, discussing what he would do in an impeachment trial in the senate.

“I will listen to both sides, and I will make a decision based on what I hear, what I saw that day and what the evidence shows,” said Kelly.

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