PHOENIX — ABC15 is learning that a state contract to bring up to 500 medical workers to Arizona has been signed.
The state of Arizona has been working on a contract for over a week to bring more medical workers to hospitals across the state.
It's unclear when those workers will begin to come to Arizona. The governor's office tells ABC15 that more details will come on Wednesday.
To help with medical staffing, hospitals are also activating their surge plans that include using local physicians outside of hospitals.
Dr. Andrew Carroll, a physician in Chandler, volunteered months ago to help inside hospitals. He tells ABC15 he has now been activated.
“And, so the hospitals are starting to activate us to give it hands, so they can take care of the large number of patients being hospitalized as well as to provide relief to the doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists and others.”
A spokesperson for Banner Health said they have contracted with agencies to bring in 400 out-of-state healthcare workers in the past few weeks in addition to the 500 mentioned in this new contract.
Along with staffing concerns, there are concerns over PPE as well.
Becky Armendariz, a spokesperson with Banner Health, said that supply challenges fluctuate and at this time they are experiencing a shortage of disposable gowns.
“One of the ways we are working to address this is by deploying reusable, cloth gowns,” Armendariz wrote in an email.
Armendariz said these gowns have been used successfully at two of their Phoenix-area hospitals and they’re confident they meet safety and infection prevention standards.
Despite PPE supply chains being disrupted, Armendariz said they are working hard to procure necessary PPE for their healthcare workers.
Banner Health has an adequate supply of masks, face shields and gloves, and they do have an N95 reuse policy, Armendariz said.
Despite the supply chains being interrupted in recent months, a spokesperson for Maricopa County said they have not received any requests for PPE since April.
That's likely because hospitals still allowing elective surgeries are not able to request PPE help from individual counties or the state.
In April, Governor Doug Ducey issued an executive order that allowed for elective surgeries to begin. However, there was a section that said, ‘a hospital, healthcare facility or provider who has an exemption from Executive Order 2020-10 is not eligible to request or receive PPE distributed by the state or county health departments.’
A spokesperson for the governor’s office said three hospitals have paused elective surgeries and resumed requesting and receiving PPE. These hospitals include: Tucson Medical Center, Yuma Regional, and Summit Healthcare Regional.