Banner Health concerned about resources ahead of flu season in Arizona

Sep 30, 2021, 4:25 AM
(Banner Health Photo)...
(Banner Health Photo)
(Banner Health Photo)

PHOENIX — The upcoming flu season is expected to be more severe than last year and that has Arizona’s largest hospital system concerned about the potential lack of resources as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“We do expect it to be a fairly moderate to severe season,” Dr. Marjorie Bessel, chief clinical officer with Banner Health, said in a press conference on Wednesday.

She said there is a concern the hospital systems will be “very, very busy.”

“Resources that can become strained when we are having things like COVID surge, as we have experienced several times during this pandemic, as well as increased winter volumes when influenza or other respiratory pathogens become more prominent, is that we can have a run on things like availability of timely ED (emergency department) visits, availability of inpatient beds,” Bessel said.

What is expected to be the most constrained resource is skilled staff, including nurses, respiratory therapists, clinicians and physicians.

“Our staff have been fighting this pandemic for over a year and a half and they are quite fatigued, and our volumes remain still high,” Bessel said.

She added the hospital is actively recruiting for more skilled staff and are working to secure external contracted labor from outside of Arizona to help.

While noting there has been a decline from the most recent COVID-19 surge, Bessel said models still show there will be an increase in cases during the winter months.

“There are variables that are very much under our control within our communities to help make that either not happen or happen to a lesser degree,” she said.

Bessel recommended those who are eligible get vaccinated against both COVID-19 and the flu.

“We’re asking for everybody to help us to make sure that we can be available to everybody who needs us in our communities, both those patients that have COVID, those patients who may get influenza and anybody else who does not have one of those infectious diseases,” she said.

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Banner Health concerned about resources ahead of flu season in Arizona