AZDHS activates crisis standards of care as COVID-19 surge leads to worries at Arizona hospitals

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb, capacity inside some hospitals is dwindling. Last week, some area hospitals went into what's called surge capacity, but some experts are sounding the alarm, saying that may not be enough and those on the front lines could be faced with difficult decisions. 

Dr. Cara Christ, the Director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, announced during Governor Ducey's news conference that Arizona hospitals will go into what's called a crisis standard of care. Health experts say this is a worse case scenario.

"You get ready for work, you walk in the building and that's shattered."

Valley nurse Brittany Schilling says the ICU floor that she works on is full.

"Everything we knew about taking care of an ICU patient has been turned upside down with these COVID patients."

According to the AZDHS, ICU bed capacity in our state is at 88%.

Many hospitals have had to go into surge capacity, moving patients, adding beds -- but Will Humble, the former director of AZDHS, says going into a critical standard of care would essentially mean patients would be scored on who would have the best outcome based on the resources available.

"In peace time and in civilian life it's not something physicians ever expect to do, but sadly I think that's where we're headed is actually doing the scoring because you have to responsibly prioritize patients in an organized way."

Schilling added, "Who's going to do the best with these resources, what's our best option for using these resources and those are difficult decisions.. it weighs heavily on our staff members. It's just devastating to all of us that this is the point we've gotten to."

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