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COVID safety can keep workers healthy to care for us all

Hospitals strain to keep health workers on the job
Posted at 7:46 PM, Dec 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-02 21:59:28-05

TUCSON, Ariz. - The largest hospital group in Arizona is bracing for more COVID cases and urging you to reduce community spread so health care workers can stay healthy enough to care for us all. The medical director for Banner Health is praising calls for more curfews.

Health privacy laws prevent pictures of hospitalized patients so the story of the COVID pandemic is told in pictures of hard-pressed health workers and hard numbers. Doctor Marjorie Bessel, the chief clinical officer for Banner Health described a ballooning caseload for Banner’s hospitals including the hospitals in Tucson.

“In Tucson, our COVID hospitalizations increased by 95% throughout the month of November. Our ICU occupancy also increased by 50% throughout the month of November. In the ICU COVID patients occupied 50% of our ICU patients, compared to 28% on November 1.”

Doctor Bessel says Banner is still trying to hire extra staff but it’s a struggle with hospitals in almost every state hiring to cope with their own COVID surges.

“We can assist with our staffing by helping keep our communities as healthy as possible mitigation, making sure that we're following those CDC guidelines to help reduce community spread will also help keep our healthcare workers as healthy as possible, so they're able to come to work and care for anybody who might need us.”

Doctor Bessel says the urgent need to reduce community spread is one reason she hopes more communities will enact curfews.

“So what we do need is mitigation and mitigation can come in many different shapes, forms, etc. Again I applaud the mayor of Tucson for putting in place a curfew and curfew is absolutely a mitigation that can work. It will work and it will work if we do deploy it.”