Arizona woman forced to wait 13 hours for hospital room as COVID-19 cases spike

Posted at 8:25 AM, Nov 25, 2020

TUCSON, Ariz. — With hospitals at capacity due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, an Arizona woman says her mother had to wait 13 hours in bed in a hallway while waiting for a room to open up.

Sam Bero said her mother went to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tempe last week after delaying care for an infection earlier this year.

Bero said her mother's illness went from infection to kidney stones, and eventually turned into a larger medical issue.

“It just ended up turning into a bigger problem than it should've been,” she said.

The Center for Disease Control released a report in June that estimated that 41% of U.S. adults had avoided medical care because of COVID-19 concerns — included 12% who reported having avoided urgent or emergency care.

Bero said her mother got to the hospital at 1 p.m. and wasn't given a room until 2:45 a.m.

“They were triaging patients in the waiting room, so doing all the blood pressure, IVs and all in the waiting room,” Bero said. “And then, when she finally did get a bed, she was in a bed in the hallway for 13 hours.”

On Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) reported that there are 192 ICU beds available across Arizona and 1,093 inpatient beds available. ADHS is reported the highest number of inpatient COVID-19 patients in this new surge, with 2,084 people in their hospital metrics.

COVID-19 patients in ICUs also are climbing with 474 people hospitalized — a similar number we saw right before a surge in cases this summer.

Hospital leaders across Arizona say that the number of available beds can change throughout the day as the number of patients goes can change.

A spokesperson for Carondelet Health Network — the company that operates St. Joseph's — said that while their hospitals continue to have the capacity to treat patients needing medical care, “like any hospital, the number of patients in-house can fluctuate daily.”

Hospitals across Arizona are working to secure more staffing, as there is expected to be an increase in hospitalizations from COVID-19 in the coming weeks.

“We commend our team of health care professionals who are working valiantly to ensure our preparedness as we continue caring for our community,” the Carondelet spokesperson said.

Bero said her mother has since been released from the hospital, and she’s expected to be okay.

“The poor nurses and doctors are so overworked,” she said.

This story was originally published by Nicole Grigg on KNXV in Phoenix.