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Unvaccinated COVID-19 patients overwhelming Valleywise hospitals and health care workers

Published: Wednesday, December 15, 2021 - 11:48am
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Hospitalizations are reaching the highest marks they’ve ever been during the pandemic as case numbers and deaths continue to climb. The state health department reported 3,249 cases of COVID-19 and 81 deaths Dec. 15.

In the state’s largest health care network, Banner, close to 100% of the COVID-19 patients are still unvaccinated.

Other networks have already announced postponing non-emergency surgeries, and experts are predicting the state won’t hit its next peak until mid-January.

Banner’s Chief Clinical Officer Marjorie Bessel is concerned.

"If the forecasted trends continue, we will soon be unable to meet the health care demands of Arizonans," Bessel said. "Banner's predictive modeling tools show no signs of letting up. We expect that volumes will continue to increase throughout December and into the beginning of next year before peaking around the middle of January."

Bessel also says people have been deliberately avoiding care for some illnesses for a while.

"We know that individuals throughout the pandemic have very unfortunately, because of the scenario that we have been experiencing, [been] delaying care. Some of them delayed preventative care. Some of them are presenting after having symptoms for a protracted period of time and presenting late in the course of their disease or illness," Bessel said.

Dr. Ross Goldberg is the vice chair of surgery at Valleywise Hospital.

The Show spoke with him to learn what he’s seeing as things unfortunately continue to get worse.

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