Banner nurse doesn’t feel hospital was prepared for influx of virus patients

Jun 23, 2020, 4:25 AM
(Getty Images/Justin Sullivan)...
(Getty Images/Justin Sullivan)
(Getty Images/Justin Sullivan)

PHOENIX — An intensive care unit nurse doesn’t feel like the Valley hospital where she works was prepared for a recent influx of coronavirus patients.

“We didn’t have much notice for it,” Samantha Lange, an ICU nurse at Banner Boswell Medical Center, told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Monday.

“It went from maybe five or six patients positive [for COVID-19] in our ICU at a time to almost our entire 38-bed ICU full.”

And the influx is not only felt in the hospital’s ICU.

“We also have telemetry status patients with COVID who aren’t requiring such intensive care, and those units are also very full,” she said.

This has left the medical center struggling to get enough ventilators and the antiviral drug remdesivir, which the hospital uses to treat coronavirus patients, according to Lange.

The situation has also resulted in a high nurse-to-patient ratio in the hospital’s ICU.

Nurses in the ICU are typically assigned one or two patients because of how much care the patients require, but Lange said she and other ICU nurses are now assigned three to four patients.

“I had 3 patients on Saturday, and I went into it thinking ‘I’m going to be okay,’” she said. “It ended up being a very challenging day for me. It’s very difficult to manage three very critical patients at a time.”

She explained increased workloads for nurses “means we don’t eat or we don’t use the restroom or don’t chart anything on a patient until our shift is almost over.”

Lange added the recent rise in COVID-19 patients made her feel the hospital wasn’t properly staffed.

She also felt the hospital was more prepared to take in COVID-19 patients in March when an executive order by Gov. Doug Ducey put elective surgeries on hold as a way to free up staff and resources for coronavirus patients.

The governor’s order allowed for respiratory therapists and nurses from other units to help treat coronavirus patients. They were able to return to their units once elective surgeries resumed in May.

Banner Health spokesperson Alexis Kramer-Ainza told KTAR News 92.3 FM in an email that Banner facilities are continuing to explore their options regarding elective procedures.

“We are evaluating each facility’s activity day by day to see if any further course of action needs to be taken to better fulfill patient care,” she said.

“Many of our hospitals in the Phoenix area still have capacity for COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients, and we’ve activated our surge plans to expand capacity. We are load balancing within our system so that no one hospital is overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. That means that we transfer patients or resources between facilities.”

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Banner nurse doesn’t feel hospital was prepared for influx of virus patients