Arizona COVID-19 ICU nurse says she sees a patient die every shift

By Vaughan Jones
Published: Saturday, January 22, 2022 - 2:06pm
Updated: Monday, January 24, 2022 - 11:25am

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Valleywise Health
Medical staff in the Valleywise Health Medical Center COVID-19 unit tend to a patient.

COVID-19 cases are peaking in Arizona due to the more contagious omicron variant, with over 27,000 new cases being reported Saturday.

Cindy Smith works in the COVID-19 ICU at Valleywise Health and has spent 30 years as a nurse. She says that before the delta variant began spreading in Arizona, there was hope in her hospital.

“A year ago, I think we saw a light at the end of the tunnel and thought it was gonna get done, and we were doing something really good. And now, it just seems like we’re doing the same thing over and over, and we’re not seeing the positive outcome,” said Smith.

Smith says having at least one patient die during her shift is now a daily occurrence, something she has never seen in her time in health care.

Mark Macelwee is a doctor at Valleywise. He says the longer the pandemic continues, the more toll it takes on hospital staff.

“The longer it lingers, it seems like people, specifically staff, are emotionally depleted,” said Macelwee.

Macelwee says 95% of the patients he sees are either unvaccinated, or only partially vaccinated. Just over 58% of Arizonans are fully vaccinated, placing the state five percentage points behind the national average.

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