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Medical professionals work long hours as COVID-19 cases continue to spike

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PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. (KVOA) - Hospitals in Southern Arizona are seeing a nurse shortage.

Dr. Matthew Heinz, a doctor at Tucson Medical Center said Arizona has always had a nursing shortage.

"My hospital and other hospitals in southern Arizona, struggle with the staffing," Heinz said. "That was before all this COVID business."

Heinz said COVID-19 has stretched all hospital workers in Southern Arizona too thin. He said he has spent more time at the hospital.

The doctor said normally, the TMC staff works have three 12-hour shifts per week. Now, the staff is working almost five 12-plus-hour shifts.

"It's not like a whistle blows and you're in the middle of coding someone and you're like, 'Oh, oh well see ya later, Gary'," Heinz said. "You don't just leave when someone is in cardiac arrest. You stay till the job is done."

Ben Gerkin, a nurse in Southern Arizona, said bed space is also a challenge.

"Our ICU is running at near capacity," Gerkin said. "When one leaves, it is replaced with another COVID-19 patient who is very sick."

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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