Outbreak of respiratory illness challenging Valley doctors and patients

Respiratory illness
Posted at 6:46 PM, Aug 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-10 21:50:55-04

PHOENIX — A combination of factors is leaving Valley patients suffering through longer than usual wait times to see doctors in their offices or in urgent care and hospital settings.

The cause, one local physician says, is a perfect storm of bad air, upper respiratory infections, and COVID-19.

“You have significantly ill children and the children who are not so sick but still need to be seen and cleared. That’s why some of us have become extremely busy,” Phoenix pediatrician Dr. Duane Wooten said.

Viruses and upper respiratory infections are common in Phoenix during the summer months, but this year, Dr. Wooten says the combination of respiratory issues and what he calls "COVID hysteria" has caused many people to go see the doctor.

“Just this morning, I saw seven kids, they were actually removed from school and had to come see me to make sure they weren’t sick,” Dr. Wooten said. “Then you have the real deal. You have the fact, a lot of smaller children and bigger children are getting sick from COVID and other respiratory illness in the air.”

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The number of people sick from either respiratory illness or COVID is being felt throughout the medical system.

For patients like Jim Young, who suffered a cardiac event last week, his trip from an urgent care to the hospital was delayed 19 hours because there was no bed for him.

“They were going all out. You can tell they were stretched thin, almost beyond the breaking point,” Young said.

When he finally arrived at the hospital, his stay was a short one.

Young had been stable for several hours and doctors decided it was safe to send him home.

“I saw more than one patient at Buckeye and Goodyear to where they looked like the walking dead,” Young said. “They just looked terrible.”