TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — 25% of Banner Health patients have COVID-19 right now, according to Dr. Marjorie Bessel, the Chief Clinical Officer at Banner Health. Of those patients, 93% are not vaccinated.
The increasing number of COVID-19 patients that the hospital has is putting a strain on the hospital staff.
"Staffing is going to be our most rate limiting concern as we manage through the rest of this surge and also the entire winter," Dr. Bessel said. "The toll that the pandemic has taken on those that have been heroes throughout this pandemic surge and previous pandemic surges is significant."
Right now, Banner Health is looking to add more than 1,000 nurses to their staff. They are also using outside contractors to help.
Banner Health is also worried that more COVID-19 patients mean less space for other medical emergencies.
"If we do not improve our vaccination rates, and unvaccinated COVID patients continue to occupy a significant amount of space in our hospitals, there may come a time when that space is not available for patients with other emergent health care needs," Dr. Bessel said.
Elective services are still available, but that could change if needed.
"As we've experienced previously, it is possible that we will need to curtail elective surgeries and procedures in the future," Dr. Bessel said. "I would remind all of us that we can all have an impact on not having that happen."
Dr. Bessel says that getting vaccinated will help them and others in the community.