Overwhelmed Banner Health Hospitals To Divert COVID-19 Patients Arriving By Ambulance

Published: Thursday, December 31, 2020 - 2:00pm
Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services
Marjorie Bessel

This week, multiple Banner Health hospitals in Arizona are operating well above their licensed bed capacity.

To alleviate some pressure, Banner hospitals may begin to redirect COVID-19 patients arriving by ambulance to another facility, Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Majorie Bessel announced at a Wednesday press conference. 

Banner will continue to accept COVID-19 patients in need of emergency care who walk in, she said. 

“We will take those (patients) into emergency departments that are on diversion. because we know it’s very difficult to get them quickly to another place that has room," Bessel said. 

Hospitals and health care systems in the Phoenix-area will be assigned specific times to on diversion while others remain open for transports and transfer, Bessel said. Diversion strategies are common during the winter, but she said what's different this year is having multiple hospitals in the same area on diversion at the same time and that's a concern.

“For those seeking care, you may need to be transported to a hospital that is further away from your home, and you will experience longer wait times," Bessel said.

This diversion activity is an early indication that triage may soon be necessary if volumes continue to increase like they did this past week. In the meantime, Banner has decided to pause all elective surgeries starting Friday. 

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