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Pima County running low on available ICU beds

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TUCSON (KVOA) - On Monday, Pima County Health Director Theresa Cullen told News 4 Tucson Arizona is in crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to hospitals nearing bed capacity. Currently, more than  85 percent of ICU beds are full.

In Pima County, the number of open beds is startling.

“I worry every day,” Dr. Cullen said. “As of this morning, there were eight ICU beds available not including the VA and some beds in Green Valley.”

Statewide, hospitals use a database known as the surge line to help them figure out when and where there are open beds to transfer the sickest patients.

But, what happens if some or most of our hospitals reach capacity?

Cullen does not expect all Arizona hospitals to reach capacity, but she understands some facilities could face that reality.

“There are facilities beyond the state,” Cullen said. “There are facilities in Texas and in California. And while both of those places are having a surge, particularly in Texas, my guess is there would be a place to go in California. That used to not be uncommon.“

As Cullen and other doctors and health care professors work to make sure future patients have the care they need, she said she feels a sense of anguish knowing just how relentless this virus can be.

“It’s palpable suffering,” Cullen said. “It’s real and you know what, we can’t stop this whole thing but we can truly limit the impact on our community and we have to do that.

Cullen told News 4 Tucson’s Eric Fink  the health department is working with the Tucson VA to make sure that facility can serve as a backup if space becomes severely limited countywide.

Eric Fink

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