Crisis care plan to aid Arizona hospitals if overwhelmed

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Hospitalizations for COVID-19 hit a new high in Arizona today, and there is concern that the coming weeks and months will put stress on hospitals statewide. We talked about this with Ann-Marie Alameddin, president and CEO of the Arizona Hospital & Healthcare Association.

Surge Line

“Currently, Arizona hospitals are at 90% capacity, meaning that 90% of the beds are currently full,” said Alameddin noting hospitals are concerned about the “severity of the spread.”

According to Alameddin, the Arizona Department of Health Services started the “Surge Line,” which is a “centralized way for all Arizona hospitals to transfer patients to the appropriate level of care.” This load balancing mechanism has been successful, but there are concerns that the lines will be overwhelmed due to the virus’s rising spread, said Alameddin.

With the Surge Line, hospitals can still provide care to patients as they need it, COVID or otherwise, Alameddin said.

Arizona’s crisis standard of care plan

If a shortage of staff and resources presented itself to hospitals, a form of triage, following Arizona’s crisis standard of care plan, would take place to make the most out of resources. There are three levels of care: conventional, contingency, and crisis standards of care.

Dr. Joe Gerald, from the University of Arizona’s School of Public Health, predicted hospitals would reach the crisis level of care in January, according to Alameddin. Alameddin says crisis standard of care is distributed in a “thoughtful and methodical way” to maximize care for the patients who are most likely to benefit from that care.

“We want to make sure that we don’t overwhelm the hospital system and that we don’t go into crisis level of care,” Alameddin said. “That is a risk we are at right now, and hospitals need communities and patients to do their part.”

Ann-Marie Alameddin, President & CEO, Arizona Hospital & Healthcare Association

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