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Arizona hospital inpatient bed use is now at an all-time high

Inpatient bed use in Arizona’s hospitals is now at an all-time high. The  Arizona Department of Health Services reports 95% of licensed inpatient beds in the state are full, with just 464 beds remaining as of Wednesday. Emergency department beds in the state are also at record occupancy. Intensive care unit beds in the state are 93% full, nearing a record set in October.  

COVID-19 patients make up about a third of those hospitalized, but Arizona health care workers say patients being treated for the virus are putting the most strain on hospital staff and resources.

“Fifty-percent of our patients in our ICUs or on ventilators today at Banner Health are COVID-positive," Banner Health chief clinical officer Marjorie Bessel  told reporters last week. "If we didn’t have those patients, we would have more than enough room for all the other patients that we’re talking about that need us today." 

Many Arizona hospitals continue to face staffing shortages as facilities approach capacity. Emily Carter is an ICU nurse in the COVID-19 unit at the Valleywise Health Medical Center in Phoenix. In a video provided by Valleywise Health on Thursday, Carter said she and her colleagues are exhausted after nearly two years on the front lines of the pandemic.

"It's truly horrible. There was a period where me and all my friends, we would just cry on the way home from work every day," Carter said. “We will be there to hold every single hand of people who die alone here in the COVID unit, because it happens. And we still love and pray and care for those people like they’re our own family. But it is absolutely difficult to do it on the scale that we’re doing right now.”

Arizona is still reporting more than 3,000 new COVID-19 infections per day on average. More than 22,000 Arizonans have died from COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. 

Arizona Coronavirus Cases, Deaths

Katherine Davis-Young is a senior field correspondent reporting on a variety of issues, including public health and climate change.