Arizona Emergency Room Occupancy Reaches COVID-19 Pandemic High

By Vaughan Jones
Published: Friday, August 6, 2021 - 4:33pm

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A sign pointing to the emergency department at an Arizona hospital
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
A sign pointing to the emergency department at an Arizona hospital.

The Arizona Department of Health Services says more than 1,500 patients occupied Arizona emergency room beds as of Thursday.

Wednesday’s high mark of 1,528 is the highest since the Arizona Department of Health Services began tracking occupancy at the start of the pandemic.

Valleywise Health Chief Clinical Officer Michael White says the recent spike has multiple causes.

He says some emergency room beds are occupied by patients with respiratory symptoms associated with COVID-19, and some are occupied by those forced to delay health care.

“The number of patients that may have had to defer health care during earlier portions of the pandemic when we were not able to serve as many patients because of the COVID-19 patients who were occupying those beds in the hospital,” said White.

White says Valleywise, as well as other health care organizations, are also struggling with emergency room staffing.

He is unsure if the high emergency room occupancy will continue, but says it’s possible as long as the state struggles with increasing COVID-19 cases.

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