Docs in Arizona had been involved in regards to the impending COVID-19 affected person flood – ABC15 Arizona
PHOENIX – As the number of COVID-19 patients increases in Arizona, doctors and hospitals prepare for a tough month, urging people to wear masks and social distancing to slow the spread.
As of Tuesday, 11% of ICU beds were still available in Arizona hospitals, according to the state's coronavirus dashboard. COVID-19 patients currently occupy 34% of ICU beds.
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"We're about halfway through our summer," said Dr. Sam Durrani, Chairman of the COVID-19 Task Force from HonorHealth Medical Staff. "But this half will burden us more because we are used to being fully occupied at this time of year."
Dr. Durrani told ABC15, similar to the summer, an increase in COVID-19 patients could strain staff and resources and increase mortality.
"If we are on the rise … it means we are pushing the hospital to its capacity limits," he said. "Usually an ICU patient is one-on-one. We can expand our nurses with additional resources, we can expand them to one to three people. But that's not ideal care."
Dr. Durrani raised concerns about the extent to which the virus is spreading in the community and hopes to avoid the introduction of Crisis Standards of Care, a situation where doctors decide which patients will receive which valuable resources.
"It is absolutely terrible to think about performing in this country," he said.
Dr. Durrani said the crisis standards were not enacted during the summer surge and that there are ethics teams that would decide who will be mentored in this scenario.
"That is what we fear most as doctors because we are unable to provide care," he said. "And decide who lives and who dies."
ABC15 also spoke to a doctor at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, who said during his career he doesn't need to set crisis standards for care but was also concerned about current conditions.
"I've been through multiple disasters, volunteering for earthquakes and previous experience of some major disasters, but never to the point where we had to make these difficult decisions," said Dr. Ayan Sen, chairman of the Department of Intensive Care Medicine with Mayo Clinic in Arizona.
Dr. Sen told ABC15 that the coming weeks could be challenging. "I'm worried, worried, and … exhausted," he said.
Dr. Sen said they had managed to add staff, but noted that many tired health care workers have been on the front lines over the past decade.
"It was surreal," said Dr. Sen. "We took care of a lot of sick patients here at the Mayo Clinic."
He also referred to the many patients who survive the virus but have many health complications as a result.
"All the comfort of the challenges we face due to this disease cannot be diminished," he said.
Both doctors ABC15 spoke to Tuesday urged people to wear masks and social distancing to help slow the spread of the virus.
"We are trained to work hard, and we do," said Dr. Durrani. “We want to do what's best for our community, so we are here to work and we will do it until the job is done. The most disheartening thing is when we see the community carelessly addressing the disease . "