Inpatient bed use in Arizona hospitals is now at an all-time high. The Arizona Department of Health reports that 95% of licensed inpatient beds in the state are occupied, with only 464 beds left as of Wednesday. The beds in the state emergency room are also enjoying record occupancy. Intensive care beds in the state are 93% occupied, nearing a record in October.
COVID-19 patients make up about a third of hospital patients, but Arizona health workers say patients being treated for the virus place the greatest strain on hospital staff and resources.
“Fifty percent of our patients in our intensive care units or on ventilators at Banner Health today are COVID positive,” Marjorie Bessel, Banner Health’s chief clinical officer, told reporters last week. “If we didn’t have these patients, we would have more than enough space for all of the other patients we talk about who need us today.”
Many Arizona hospitals continue to face staff shortages as facilities get closer. Emily Carter is an intensive care nurse in the COVID-19 unit at Valleywise Health Medical Center in Phoenix. In a Valleywise Health video on Thursday, Carter said she and her colleagues were exhausted after being on the front lines of the pandemic for nearly two years.
“It’s really awful. There was a time when I and all my friends just cried every day on the way home from work,” Carter said. “We’ll be there to hold every single hand of people who die alone here in the COVID unit because it’s happening. And we love and pray and still care for these people as if they were our own family. But it is absolutely difficult to do this on the scale that we are doing right now. “
Arizona still reports on average more than 3,000 new COVID-19 infections per day. More than 22,000 Arizonans have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began.