Banner Health official: Model shows 'difficult times' ahead

Banner Gateway Medical Center
Posted at 5:47 PM, Oct 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-31 00:05:37-04

Banner Health's Chief Clinical Officer said the coronavirus model they follow shows 'difficult times' ahead for the state of Arizona.

In an interview with ABC15, Banner Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel said conditions are likely going to get worse, noting they look at the IHME model.

"[It] shows us that November, December and part of January will be difficult times here in the state of Arizona," Dr. Bessel said. "So we have already been making plans for staffing."

Dr. Bessel told ABC15 she believes masks can make a significant difference in how serious the situation becomes.

"I just cannot underscore the importance of masking at this time," she said.

Dr. Bessel said she is regularly in contact with the Department of Health Services. ABC15 asked if additional mitigation efforts are needed at this point, and she reiterated the importance of masks.

"It does not appear that we are on an exponential growth curve at this time, we're on an incremental growth curve at this time," she said. "If we start to get on an exponential growth curve, that's a different conversation that may require different mitigation and different policy conversations."

Dr. Bessel said she feels like they are prepared to handle what's to come, but notes this next wave of coronavirus cases will coincide with flu season.

"I do think that similar to what we experienced in June and July, that it is likely that Banner is going to become very stressed," she said. "Other healthcare systems will likely have the same experience that Banner is going to predict that we are going to experience."

On Friday, ABC15 reached out to several other hospital systems about their preparations for another potential surge of cases:

Statement from Dignity Health in Arizona

As we enter flu season and acknowledge the further potential increase in COVID-19 cases, Dignity Health in Arizona is actively planning to care for a surge of patients.

We have learned a great deal throughout the COVID-19 pandemic which is guiding our preparation for the next potential surge. We have detailed plans in place to expand our critical care capacity and increase staffing during times of surge. We will adjust these plans as needed until any patient surge subsides. We continue to partner with local public health departments, health systems and other local agencies to ensure patients who need medical treatment can receive care in a facility with capacity. Currently, we are not experiencing a surge in capacity in any of our Dignity Health hospitals in Arizona.

We urge the community to continue practicing the behaviors known to limit the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in order to minimize a surge in our state. Please continue to social distance, wear a mask, practice hand hygiene and get a flu shot.

Abrazo Health

Abrazo Health is monitoring the increase in cases being reported across the region. Our hospitals have enhanced COVID safety measures in place and we remind the community that both screening and emergent care should not be delayed.

Abrazo hospitals continue to have the capacity to treat patients needing medical care. We are prepared for a potential increase of patients and can make rapid adjustments as needed, consistent with the guidance from public health officials and the CDC.

We commend our team of health care professionals who are working valiantly to ensure our preparedness as we continue caring for our community. As always, we urge everyone to proactively protect themselves and others by wearing a mask in public, using proper hand hygiene and practicing social distancing.


HonorHealth remains prepared for any potential surge in COVID-19 cases, and we remain well positioned to deal with an increase in patients. Every day we monitor bed capacity, equipment, staffing and many other measures at all of our facilities to ensure that we can safety treat any suspected COVID-19 patients, and all other patients who walk through our doors.

HonorHealth continues to work with state and local experts, as well as other healthcare organizations, to make sure we’re prepared to take care of the needs in our community.

The increase in COVID-19 cases is an important reminder that coronavirus is still present in Arizona, and we can’t let our guard down. HonorHealth encourages everyone in the community to always wear masks in public, maintain social distancing, wash your hands, don’t touch your face and follow the other guidelines clinical experts are giving us.