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Arizona still has yet to sign a contract to bring in up to 500 medical workers for the state

Arizona still has yet to sign a contract to bring in up to 500 medical workers for the state
Posted at 7:13 PM, Jul 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-13 22:13:32-04

Arizona still has yet to sign a contract that would bring up to 500 medical workers to help inside hospitals across the state.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health Services said as of Monday morning a contract has not been signed with the state and the contractor.

ABC15 asked who the company is that they are working to contract with, but they said they would only release the name when the contract has been signed.

On July 1, Vice President Mike Pence announced the state has requested 500 medical workers to help hospitals in Arizona.

However, the latest numbers show that around 150 medical workers have arrived temporarily as part of a federal contract, not one with the state.

On top of that federal contract, the state is trying to bring in up to 500 more workers, but it is unclear at this time why a contract has still not been signed.

“The fact that it's not signed tells me that there's something in the scope of work that the contractor does not agree with and is unable to basically comply with what the state is stating in that scope of work,” said Wendy Smith-Reeve, Arizona’s former director of emergency management and ABC15 analyst.

To help with medical staffing, hospitals are also activating their surge plans that include using local physicians outside of hospitals.

Dr. Andrew Carroll, a physician in Chandler, volunteered months ago to help inside hospitals. He tells ABC15 he has now been activated.

“And, so the hospitals are starting to activate us to give it hands, so they can take care of the large number of patients being hospitalized as well as to provide relief to the doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists and others.”

A spokesperson for Banner Health said they have contracted with agencies to bring in 400 out-of-state healthcare workers in the past few weeks.

Along with staffing concerns, there are concerns over PPE as well.

Becky Armendariz, a spokesperson with Banner Health, said that supply challenges fluctuate and at this time they are experiencing a shortage of disposable gowns.

“One of the ways we are working to address this is by deploying reusable, cloth gowns,” Armendariz wrote in an email.

Armendariz said these gowns have been used successfully at two of their Phoenix-area hospitals and they’re confident they meet safety and infection prevention standards.

Despite PPE supply chains being disrupted, Armendariz said they are working hard to procure necessary PPE for their healthcare workers.

Banner Health has an adequate supply of masks, face shields and gloves, and they do have an N95 reuse policy, Armendariz said.

Despite the supply chains being interrupted in recent months, a spokesperson for Maricopa County said they have not received any requests for PPE since April.

That's likely because hospitals still allowing elective surgeries are not able to request PPE help from individual counties or the state.

In April, Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order that allowed for elective surgeries to begin. However, there was a section that said, ‘a hospital, healthcare facility or provider who has an exemption from Executive Order 2020-10 is not eligible to request or receive PPE distributed by the state or county health departments.’

A spokesperson for the governor’s office said three hospitals have paused elective surgeries and resumed requesting and receiving PPE. These hospitals include: Tucson Medical Center, Yuma Regional, and Summit Healthcare Regional.