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Banner Health warns Arizona hospitals stretched to limit

Virus Outbreak Arizona
Posted at 10:58 AM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 19:38:49-05

PHOENIX — Officials say Phoenix-based Banner Health is at its most overwhelmed level since the pandemic began.

That has led executives to issue a bleak warning that the hospital system may have to eventually choose who can receive care.

Dr. Marjorie Bessel is Banner's chief clinical officer and said Tuesday that it's not just COVID-19 patients who are stretching hospitals thin.

She says there is also an extremely high volume of patients who delayed preventative care or are in the late stages of illnesses.

Medically necessary surgeries are being prioritized. Banner’s situation is similar to other hospitals in the region.

Some Valley residents are getting frustrated by what they call a lack of communication while loved ones battle COVID and other illnesses.

Karen Webb and her mother Monica Hirsch were together on Friday for a day of shopping and lunch. Two days later Monica ended up in Honor Health Shea Hospital. She was diagnosed with COVID. “The condition right now is she hasn’t responded to anything they’ve given her,” Karen Webb said.

Webb has medical power of attorney for her mother. But she has not been able to speak with the doctors who are treating her. “I wish I could get her to where doctors will call us back and you know not tell me that my medical power of attorney is meaningless,” Webb says.

On Tuesday, the Chief Medical Officer with Banner Health said in some cases surgeries are being delayed or canceled because of the lack of bed space.

“I have one mom and that is what I’m caring about,” Webb said. On Tuesday, Karen Webb was able to talk and see her mom after a nurse who is caring for her was able to arrange a video call. It was the first time since Monica Hirsch was admitted to the hospital she was able to talk with her daughter.