#Arizona hospitals activate emergency plans as coronavirus cases spike

#Arizona hospitals activate emergency plans as coronavirus cases spike

June 9, 2020 | 4:05pm | Updated June 9, 2020 | 4:31pm

The Arizona Department of Health Services urged the state’s hospitals to “fully activate” their emergency plans — as the state has seen a spike in coronavirus cases since reopening last month, according to new reports.

The letter, dated Saturday and signed by health services director Cara Christ, urged hospitals to prepare surge beds, cross-train staff and “reduce or suspend elective surgeries to ensure adequate bed capacity” for COVID and non-COVID patients alike.

The letter includes many of the same recommendations outlined in another memo sent to hospitals in March — except the new letter comes weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey’s stay-at-home order expired May 15. Statewide coronavirus cases have more than doubled since then, KPNX reported.

Ducey attributed the rise last week to an increase in testing.

“In recent days, we’ve seen some hospitals come out with concerns related to a surge in patients,” health services assistant director Jessica Rigler told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “So we wanted to make sure that we provided some additional guidance to those facilities about steps that they could be taking and remind them of some of the requirements that were … recommended in the previous letter.”

Hospitals must also identify additional ICU and inpatient beds to meet the 50 percent additional bed increase, the letter outlines.

They must also determine whether to shift their facilities from conventional care to contingency care, and prepare for crisis care.

The letter was dated the same day Christ told ABC 15 that her department’s staff had made errors and reported incorrect hospitalization numbers since April on the department’s coronavirus dashboard.

The state miscalculated the number of hospital beds currently available and in use in Arizona, because of staff members’ confusion over the number of beds the facilities are allowed to have in operation, and their surge capacities, according to the report.

Arizona has tallied a total of 28,296 coronavirus cases and 1,070 deaths, state data shows.

That includes 618 new cases and 23 additional deaths reported Tuesday morning.


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