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Banner Health pausing all elective surgeries amid coronavirus surge

(Banner Health Photo)

PHOENIX – Arizona’s largest hospital system is pausing all elective surgeries starting Friday to handle the rise in coronavirus patients, Banner Health’s top official announced on Wednesday.

“Due to the recent pressures on our health system brought on by the increase of patients, Banner Health has made the difficult decision to pause all elective surgeries effective Jan. 1,” Banner Health’s Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Marjorie Bessel said in a press conference.

Bessel said hospitals have not implemented triage in the crisis standards of care plans; however, that may be necessary if the patient volumes continue to increase at this rate. The pausing of elective surgeries is designed to avoid that step.

“It is our absolute intention to do everything possible to avoid getting to a triage or rationing situation, but we need your help,” Bessel said.

On Wednesday, Arizona health officials reported 5,267 coronavirus cases and 78 additional deaths, bringing the state’s documented totals to 512,489 COVID-19 infections and 8,718 fatalities.

Hospital metrics across the state were at or near pandemic highs.

The number of COVID-19 patients in the state’s ICU beds increased to 1,076 on Tuesday, the sixth consecutive day with a record high.

Statewide, suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patients took up 53% of all inpatient beds and 61% of all ICU beds, both records.

Overall, inpatient beds were 91% and ICU beds were 90% full.

Multiple Banner hospitals in the Phoenix area have gone on diversion this week in an effort to clear a backlog of patients and keep care standards as high as possible. Hospitals diversions means facilities close to ambulances and transfers; however, they are still open for people walking in for emergency care.

Bessel noted that hospitals are going on rolling diversions in an effort to balance the load at facilities in the area.

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