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Staffed ICU beds are dangerously low; Tucson patients being sent to Phoenix

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PIMA COUNTY (KVOA) - Staffed ICU beds in Pima County are running dangerously low.

With coronavirus cases in Arizona continuing to rise, the hike in hospitalizations is taking a toll on the limited ICU beds left in the state.

The nightmare of no ICU bed space became a reality for one Tucson family. Bill Spurbeck's brother-in-law, Wade Mcgee, was diagnosed with COVID-19. Mcgee is now receiving treatment in Phoenix.

"My brother-in-law is now 140 or 150 miles from our family, and we can't do a thing," Spurbeck said.

Mcgee's wife, Wendy Mcgee, drove him to Northwest Medical Center. Early the next morning, Mcgee was told he was being moved.

"He told me they were asking him to go to Phoenix because they didn't have any COVID beds here," Mcgee said.

News 4 Tucson learned the problem isn't just at Northwest Medical Center. Sources within St. Mary's Hospital, Tucson Medical Center and Banner UMC tells News 4 Tucson, in the last few days, ICU beds have been in the singular digits; sometimes dipping to zero.

Spurbeck said Phoenix isn't the only place people are being sent if Tucson is out of room.

"Some discussions with health care providers here in Tucson, they are shipping people to San Diego and Albuquerque, New Mexico," Spurbeck said." We are lucky he is shipped to Phoenix."

Wendy Mcgee said it's not just her family that is impacted by the problem.

"Seeing and hearing this happen to our family is taxing and it hurts you," Mcgee said.

Every hospital in the state of Arizona reports to the State Surge Line every four hours. The hospitals share how many staffed ICU beds are availale at that time. The number of availbale beds can change every four hours for a variety of reasons.

Austin Walker

Austin is a Reporter at KVOA News 4 Tucson. He graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism in May of 2020.

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