Banner Health has worked for many months to expand its capacity and staffing in order to meet the increased demand for care brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. For the past two months, COVID-19 cases, positivity rate, hospitalizations and COVID-19 deaths have been on the rise at Arizona hospitals.

Hospitals in Arizona have experienced an influx of patients in the last 48 hours which has caused several of them to go on diversion. Yesterday up to 10 Phoenix-area hospitals were actively diverting patients at the same time; this morning 6 Phoenix-area hospitals are currently on diversion. This means that the hospitals are closed to incoming emergency transports and hospital transfers while they quickly work to address a backlog of patients. Diversion does not apply to walk-in patients who need emergency care. This is a very fluid situation and status. Hospitals may go on and off diversion within hours if they are able to free up enough capacity and resources within that time, while others may remain on diversion for longer. 

It is not uncommon for hospitals to go on diversion during the winter when volume is higher, but it is unusual for so many to be on diversion at the same time—with the length of stay and complexity of care for COVID-19 patients adding to the challenge that this presents. This is a situation that must be quickly and carefully addressed through balancing of patients and resources between hospitals, increasing staffing, pausing elective procedures and expediting discharges for those who no longer need hospital care. 

Diversion only applies to incoming transfers. Walk-in patients will still be seen and cared for as quickly as possible; they will not be turned away. In addition, we have not yet activated the triage addendum to Arizona’s Crisis Standards of Care plan. Patients who present to emergency rooms will still receive standard care but may experience longer wait times due to hospital diversions.

We would ask that all those in the community do their part to help Arizona hospitals and health systems as we manage this COVID-19 surge. Do not gather. Shrink your circle to include only those you live with. Wear a mask at all times when around those who are not part of your circle. We need every Arizonan to help us in this fight against COVID-19. In addition, if you are experiencing a life-threatening medical event, please do not delay care. It is important that everyone experiencing a medical event be evaluated by a health care professional who will determine what level of care is needed.