This week, hospital medical leaders and I joined Dr. Richard Carmona, the 17th U.S. Surgeon General and special adviser to Governor Ducey on public health emergency preparedness, to share ways we can work together to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Arizona. Hospitals are stretched thin dealing with seriously ill unvaccinated patients, while attending to the health needs of others.
Dr. Keith Frey of Dignity Health compared the medical community’s response to a rubber band that is close to reaching the limits of its ability to stretch. “Exhausted nurses, exhausted doctors,” Dr. Frey said. “Please help us help you so we can continue to be here for you. That’s what we’ve been called to do.”
Dr. Alyssa Chapital of Mayo Clinic in Arizona described a “careful dance” hospitals are following now to help non-COVID-19 patients avoid delaying care — and as a result having more complications later. “But we also are treating those COVID patients that have long lengths of stay and that are filling up our ICUs, and they’re preventing us from taking care of all of the other patients that have needs,” Dr. Chapital said.
Noting that we remain at war with COVID-19, Dr. Carmona called on those who haven’t been vaccinated to recognize their responsibility to others. “People say, ‘I’m an American. You can’t tell me what to do,’” Dr. Carmona said. “What we’re doing today is pleading with that American that it’s not about you. It’s about you, your family, your community, our state, the nation, and the world.”
It means a great deal to me that these extremely busy leaders came together with a unified message and explained how Arizonans can do some simple things to help doctors and nurses continue to give everyone they care they need:
- Get vaccinated: azhealth.gov/FindVaccine;
- get kids ages 5 and older vaccinated: azhealth.gov/VaccinesForKids;
- get your flu shot: azhealth.gov/Flu;
- mask up, physically distance, keep your hands washed, stay home if sick, and follow other prevention steps detailed at azhealth.gov/COVID-19; and
- if you contract COVID-19, get tested early and see if you qualify for monoclonal antibody treatment to reduce the severity of your illness: azdhs.gov/mAbs.