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Packed hospitals affect patient transfers

Some turned away
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Posted at 7:06 PM, Sep 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-17 22:11:39-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — With COVID cases still high, are large hospitals turning away patients transferred from smaller hospitals? Pima County’s Chief Medical officer says that sometimes does happen.

Hospitals hard pressed to staff up for demand have been a consistent problem since the Delta variant hit.

Pima County Chief Medical Officer Doctor Francisco Garcia says it seems like case counts have hit a plateau but they are still high enough to leave hospitals stretched by a combination of COVID and other cases that typically rise this time of year.

Dr. Garcia says he does not think transfers are being rejected in a big way but short staffing is having an impact.

“Sometimes they are unable to either move people quickly and efficiently from the emergency department into the inpatient setting, or from or accept transfers from especially rural hospitals here in our border counties and throughout the rural portions of Arizona.”

Banner and Tucson Medical Center have both conceded they have refused some transfers but have accepted many other transfers.

The Arizona Health Department says statewide about 700 inpatient beds are available---about 8% of the roughly 8,700 beds in the state.

Of those, about 2,000 are devoted to COVID patients---23% of the total with about 6,000 non-COVID cases or 69%.

State figures show 158 emergency beds available throughout the state---a nine percent margin. COVID patients account for 32 percent of emergency bed use with 565 cases.

Dr. Garcia says emergency room margins are getting a little better, but still so tight we’d have a hard time coping with a mass casualty event.