Valleywise hospital

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – Hospitals throughout Arizona are implementing their crisis standards of care as they anticipate seeing more and more COVID-19 patients.

While some say that means doctors will be deciding who gets care who doesn’t, Dr. Ross Goldberg, a Valleywise surgeon and the president of the Arizona Medical Association, says it’s more about prioritizing when patients get care.

“Basically [crisis mode] is a designation for hospitals to allocate resources depending on what’s going,” Goldberg said. “We’re having a large influx of COVID patients. As that number increases, which it probably will, we can then shift resources as needed to deal with that surge of patients.”

Crisis mode triage

Patients – all patients, not just those with COVID-19 – are triaged “based on acuity.” Doctors also look at the patient's  age and prognosis. Point values are assigned to those criteria and patients with the lowest scores are moved to the front of the line.

“[Medical staff looks at] who needs to go first?” Goldberg explained. “Not that [patients] are denied care. It’s just an order of who needs to go based on how sick they are and what they need in the emergent time.”

Although hospitals are in crisis mode, Goldberg said people should go to the hospital if needed.

“Diseases don’t take a vacation just because we have COVID. We have other things going on,” he said. “People need to remember they need to see their physicians and come to the hospital like they normally would if there’s a problem. … We really encourage everyone not to delay things because that could make it worse.”

Dr. Ross Goldberg

Dr. Ross Goldberg, Valleywise surgeon and president of the Arizona Medical Association

Goldberg also talked about what everyone can do to help slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Wearing a face mask is part of that.

“As a surgeon, I’m used to wearing masks, and I don’t like to wear masks all the time either. I really need everyone to participate on this. This really is a community attempt to stop the spread of the virus,” he said. “Every person is important. Every person is responsible to everyone else. The wearing of the masks, the social distancing, the hand hygiene – I understand it can be frustrating. I understand it’s a burden sometimes, or it’s an interference with your life. It’ a short-term sacrifice for a long-term gain. The sooner we all do this and get control of the virus, the sooner we can get things back to normal.”

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