As ICUs fill up, patients in Arizona face long wait for emergency room doctor

Hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units across Arizona are filled to capacity, leading to extremely long wait times to see an ER doctor.

According to the Arizona Department of Health Service's data dashboard, ICUs across the state are above 90% capacity, with less than 100 beds available over the last few days.

In the Phoenix area, doctors say currently, the reality is there are no ICU beds open, and they are shuffling patients around to make room.

I don’t know how accurate those numbers are. What I see on the ground floor is that most ICUs are full," aid Dr. Frank Lovecchio, an emergency room physician who treats patients at several different hospitals. "They have to move patients out to make room. We're also gearing up our COVID units again. I don’t think this is the new variant. I think this is all still the delta variant. The repercussions of get-togethers from Thanksgiving."

In some cases, patients have waited several days for an Intensive Care Unit bed to open up.

"It's not uncommon for someone with pneumonia, with COVID to wait a day for a bed," said Dr. Lovecchio. "I saw a patient who was relatively sick with COVID, and she waited three days for an Intensive Care Unit bed."

Arizona State Senator Victoria Steele says over the weekend, she had to call 911 after her elderly mother fell, and received a cut above her eye.

"The paramedics said, 'do you need us to take her to the hospital? She will need stitches,'" said State Sen. Steele (D-Tucson). "I said yes, they said, 'well, it's going to be a really long wait, and maybe she could get stitches someplace else where it's not that long of a wait.' he said, 'yeah, COVID. Everything is full.'"

State Sen. Steele She says she waited more than nine hours at an emergency room in Marana last month, and this time, she opted to take her mother to an urgent care facility.

"Even though their wait was only four-and-a-half hours, it was still a long wait, and I felt much safer because it was less crowded," said State Sen. Steele.

Currently, emergency room physicians say patients are being triaged. Those who have broken bones, general aches and pains, or injuries that are not life-threatening, will likely wait more than four hours to see a doctor. Patients in critical condition will be moved to the front of the line.

Other Coronavirus in Arizona Stories

CDC Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)

AZDHS Website for COVID-19 (In Spanish/En Español)


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