Hospital staff

“What we’ve been experiencing after 10 months of the pandemic, is to have this big workload with vaccinations,” said Little Colorado River Medical Center CEO Jack Dempsey. “The big surge of COVID at this point in the pandemic is very hard and continues to be very demanding and difficult on all the clinical staff.”

ARIZONA — Governor Doug Ducey and the Arizona Department of Health Services announced last Friday that Arizona is opening a 24/7 vaccination site Monday, Jan. 11. The site will be inside State Farm Stadium in Glendale and is predicted to dramatically expand the availability of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

This is vaccine mega-site doesn’t help rural area residents living in the White Mountains but help is still on the way. It’s call the 1B Phase of the vaccine roll out.

Implemented by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS), Phase 1B prioritizes protective service workers, teachers and K-12 school staff, child care workers, and those age 75 and older.

Navajo County Public Health Department published a Regional COVID-19 Update on Friday, Jan. 8. It provides updated COVID-19 cases as of the end of last week. Vaccine information and hospital capacity are included.

On Friday, there were 12,242 COVID-19 cases in Navajo County. This is a number that includes cases on the reservations and in “off-tribal” lands.

“Spread of the virus continues to be high in our communities and this continues to put tremendous pressure on our regional hospitals,” states the release. “Please take care of those around you by wearing a mask around others not of your household, avoiding large gatherings, and practicing good hand hygiene.”

Summit Healthcare COVID-19 Care Update

COVID-19 vaccinations have begun. Several providers in Navajo County and Summit Healthcare are currently vaccinating people who qualify in Phase 1A.

To date, Summit Healthcare has vaccinated over 600 people with the Moderna vaccine. Summit Healthcare and other healthcare agencies currently receive a weekly allotment of vaccinations based on supply and demand. The vaccines are ordered by Navajo County Public Health and vaccine clinic schedules are set by the State and based on vaccine availability.

Phase 1B began Monday, Jan. 11, and included K-12 school staff, child care workers, law enforcement and protective services and adults 75 and older.

Appointments at Summit were available Monday and are also available Tuesday, January 12 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Additional opportunities will be scheduled as vaccine supply becomes available.

Registration for an appointment are required at summithealthcare.net, click on the big red banner to schedule your appointment. Due to vaccine availability Summit Healthcare is not allowing walk-ins. You must have an appointment.

“Summit Healthcare continues to care for patients in the communities it serves,” stated the release. “Summit is experiencing the same surge that other hospitals throughout the United States are experiencing. Hospital beds are filling up with COVID and non- COVID illness.”

Summit Healthcare’s surge plan has been in effect since November 2020 and their inpatient bed capacity ranges between 80-95% with critical and non-critical patients.

There are still visitor restrictions in place and “frontline staff are not only taking care of patients for healthcare, they are also serving as family, caregivers and clergy to the patients,” said the release.

For more information about COVID-19 and the vaccine visit Navajo County’s Public Health page at navajocounty.gov.

Little Colorado Medical Center COVID-19

Care Update

Little Colorado Medical Center continues to care for a high volume of COVID-19 patients, testing or treating approximately 10 per day in the Emergency Department and an average census of seven COVID inpatients.

They continue to provide COVID testing, providing approximately 300 tests per week, with an average positive rate of approximately 16%.

LCMC has provided approximately 300 COVID vaccinations thus far on a scheduled basis, and continue to provide hundreds per week moving forward.

“Like most Arizona hospitals, LCMC is approaching our capacity limits,” said LCMC CEO Jack Dempsey in a brief interview with the Independent. “Thankfully we’ve been able to continue providing the whole spectrum of care everyday during the pandemic.”

“Our primary limiting factor is staffing, not just beds,” said Dempsey. “So far we continue to be able to do our jobs. It’s been incredibly busy from a care perspective but what has really strained the overall organization is the vaccine initiative.”

Dempsey said the vaccine phase is a very important and complicated process involving additional staff.

“One of the sacrifices and toil of all of the direct caregivers, physicians, nurses, labs, respiratory specialists,” said Dempsey. “What we’ve been experiencing after 10 months of the pandemic, is to have this big workload with vaccinations. The big surge of COVID at this point in the pandemic is very hard and continues to be very demanding and difficult on all the clinical staff.”

Dempsey reiterated that it’s the staff’s training and expertise that has kept them safe for so long.

White Mountain

Regional Medical

Center update

White Mountain Regional Medical Center (WMRMC), located in Springerville, is designated as a level 4 trauma center with 21 patient beds.

“We are currently near capacity which we recently increased to accommodate additional inpatients,” said WMRMC Compliance Office Brigid Holland. “Our COVID positive patients represent approximately 50 to 70% of our overall census on any given day.”

Holland also said WMRMC is close to reaching capacity for treating COVID patients with the equipment they have.

“We have not yet gotten to the point where we are unable to treat,” said Holland, “but we are starting to experience long delays in transferring patients out to other hospitals due to the surge around the state which is stressing our Emergency Department capacity on many days.”

Reach the reporter at

lsingleton@wmicentral.com

Laura Singleton is a reporter for the White Mountain Independent, covering Show Low city government, business and education.

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