PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – The leaders of Arizona’s hospitals came together with a joint statement on the state’s COVID-19 response and level of preparedness. Arizona’s recent spike in coronavirus cases has made national headlines, raising concern about whether the state is handling the pandemic appropriately.
As of Thursday morning, state health officials were reporting more than 31,200 COVID-19 cases in Arizona and more than 1,100 deaths.
On Thursday, Banner Health, Dignity Health, HonorHealth, Abrazo, Carondelet, and Northern Arizona Healthcare said we do not need to be concerned because they’re ready for whatever happens next. "We have capacity for patients," said Health System Alliance of Arizona Executive Director Jennifer Carusetta. "We are trying to get the word out that if you don't feel well, go ahead and seek that care."
“As representatives of the largest health systems representing 80% of care provided in this state, we would like to assure the public that we have available bed capacity and surge plans are in place to continue to serve the people of Arizona,” the statement from the Health System Alliance of Arizona reads. “We are well prepared to manage an increase in patient volume.”
The coalition said the surge line that the Arizona Department of Health Service set up in April will keep individual hospitals from becoming overwhelmed.
“Our surge plans will also create additional capacity for patients if needed,” according to the statement. “Arizona’s network of medical care is strong, stable and prepared.”
Last weekend, the Arizona Department of Health Services sent a letter to Arizona's hospitals urging them to activate their emergency plans.
“Be judicious and reduce or suspend elective surgeries to ensure adequate bed capacity for both COVID and non-COVID admissions,” Dr. Cara Christ wrote in the letter.
The suggestion, which was not the first of its kind in recent months, came on the heels of news that state officials said they had miscounted the number of hospital beds available throughout the state.
Earlier this week, Banner Health said the number of COVID-19 patients on ventilators had quadrupled since May 15 -- less than a month ago.
The hospital leaders said Thursday that they are working to Gov. Doug Ducey and health experts at all levels to make care Arizonans can get the care they need when they need it. They also reiterated the advice we’ve been hearing for months now on how to stem the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.
- If you are ill, stay home except to receive medical care
- Wear a mask when you’re in public near others
- Stay 6 feet away from others
- Wash your hands frequently (for at least 20 seconds at a time)
- Wipe down surfaces that may be infected
- Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people
The hospitals say they’ve “taken every precaution” to look out for their staffs and care for their patients.
“If you require medical attention, please do not delay seeking care for any medical conditions.”
Some health experts say Ducey needs to take action as the number of coronavirus cases in Arizona continues to grow with no end in sight.
"I think if we remain open, we should have a lockdown mentality," Dr. Shad Marvasti, an associate professor of preventive medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, told CBS 5 Investigates.