Arizona hospitals are seeing a “pandemic of the unvaccinated” as the delta variant spreads

Hospitals are seeing significant increases in cases of COVID-19, with many emergency rooms and ICU units nearing capacity. We got the latest from Steve Purves, President and CEO of Valleywise Health.

“We’re seeing the rise of the delta variant and the rise of COVID cases in general. We’ve seen it over the last several weeks, it’s continuing to go up,” Purves said.

He continued that because they’re seeing such an increase in cases, the emergency rooms are crowded. It’s having an impact on wait-times for patients.

Purves mentioned that a big problem is the staffing shortage within the hospitals. They have ICU beds available but the issue is not enough people to help those needing ICU beds.

“Our staff is tired, across the valley, nursing professionals are tired. Some of them have chosen to do other things, some of them have chosen to take a hiatus because of the demands placed on them,” Purves said.

A number of things happen, “when you can’t staff your units. Number one, access to healthcare for non-COVID patients.”

Purves said that COVID patients are occupying about half of their ICU beds and it’s making it harder for those within the burn center, the trauma program, surgical services and primary care, to access healthcare.

“We are seeing pediatric admissions across the valley. That’s the fastest growing segment of the COVID incident rate right now…with the delta variant and also schools being back in session, that’s the fastest growing segment of our population right now.”

With data Purves has received, he said that, “if you look at the total number of our hospitalized patients, it’s absolutely clear that this has become the pandemic of the unvaccinated, as we speak today, over 95% of our COVID patients are not fully vaccinated.”

“We’ve seen young, healthy people require hospitalization and unfortunately have to be put on a ventilator,” Purves said.

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Steve Purves, President & CEO, Valleywise Health

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