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Several Valley hospitals diverting emergency transports due to influx of patients

Banner Gateway Medical Center
Posted at 11:05 AM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 20:28:54-05

PHOENIX — Several Phoenix-area hospitals are diverting patients from its emergency rooms due to a backlog of patients.

As of Tuesday morning, six Valley hospitals were actively diverting patients, according to a post online from Banner. Up to 10 Valley hospitals were diverting patients at the same time on Monday.

RELATED: Arizona surpasses 500,000 cases of COVID-19

The hospitals are closed to incoming emergency transports and hospital transfers while health care workers quickly address a backlog of patients, according to Banner Health.

The diversion does not apply to walk-in patients who need emergency care.

Hospitals may go on and off diversion throughout the day if they're able to free up enough capacity and resources, while others may remain on diversion for longer, said Banner Health officials.

On Tuesday, Arizona Department of Health Services reported 2,799 new cases of COVID-19 and 171 additional deaths related to COVID-19.

According to Banner Health, an influx of patients at Arizona hospitals over the previous 48 hours led to several going on diversion.

On Tuesday, ABC15 also talked with a doctor at a different hospital system who said the uptick in patients is stressing the whole system statewide.

"Phoenix, a lot of times, takes care of the rest of the state," said Dr. Sam Durrani, Chair of the Honor Health COVID-19 Medical Staff Task Force. "So, Yuma is full, the Navajo Nation's full, they transfer down to Phoenix. If the hospitals are on diversion, we can't accept those patients because we have to take care of our own community. So when you have multiple hospitals on divert, that means those hospitals can't take care of patients that are coming in from out of the state, then they go to other hospitals and they fill up."

Dr. Durrani noted that adequate staffing, not beds, is the biggest issue.

"I think it would be an accurate description to say the hospital systems are being assaulted by COVID-19 right now," he said.

Dr. Durrani told ABC15 at their facilities, elective surgeries are already being canceled on a case-by-case basis, and if trends persist, could all be delayed in the next two weeks in order to help free up resources.

"These are cases that need to be done and they need ICU care post-op, so you're talking about patients that need heart surgery," Dr. Durrani said. "That's life-saving surgery, patients that need big vascular surgeries, repairing of aneurisms and things like that, that we're delaying and it's potentially adding to overall mortality and morbidity of the pandemic."