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Banner asks for help in curbing COVID-19 spread

Posted at 1:24 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 19:18:05-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) -- Banner Health Care officials are urging folks to do their part in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Marjorie Bessel, the Chief Clinical Officer at Banner Health Care, says some Banner hospitals are operating at over 100% capacity in Phoenix.

“Arizona’s health care system continues to be stressed by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Bessel said during the press conference.

She says the number of hospitalizations are a reflection of the crisis we are living through.

“Currently, COVID-19 patients count for 58% of Banner’s adult ICU beds. 74% of our adult ventilator usage is for COVID-19 patients,” she added.

While hospitals are strained, the death rate continues to climb.

“We are experiencing two to three times the number of bodies that we store . About 47% of those are COVID-19 positive individuals who have died from the disease,” said Dr. Marjorie.

The rising number of deaths have forced Banner to expand their morgue capacity with refrigerated trucks. Dr. Bessel says hospital staff is also stretched thin.

“We are at 160% of our peak Winter occupancy. This pressure has caused several Banner hospitals to halt or significantly reduce elective surgeries and procedures,” she added.

Banner hospitals are now forced to bring in external contracted labor, and up-skill health care workers to help in other areas.

“Or some of us as corporate employees go and provide helping hands at the bedside,” Dr. Bessel said during the press conference.

Dr. Bessel also thanked Pima County and Tucson’s Mayor for their mutual efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19. She also sent a clear message to Governor Doug Ducey.

“The question as to why the Governor has not granted Mayor’s the authority to make mitigation decisions that can be most impactful to curbing the trends, has yet to be scientifically answered,” she stated.

Here’s her plea to Arizonans:

“Most of you did not take an oath to save lives, but today I’m asking you to join those of us who have, so we can collectively save as many lives as we can during the pandemic. Please during this holiday season shrink your circles and wear your mask,” said Dr. Bessel.