Banner, Dignity preparing for patient surges; situations at Gilbert hospitals unclear

Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, Banner Gateway Medical Center
Mercy Gilbert (left) and Banner Gateway medical centers are busy treating COVID-19 patients. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

Mercy Gilbert (left) and Banner Gateway medical centers are busy treating COVID-19 patients. (Tom Blodgett/Community Impact Newspaper)

While the state is preparing hospitals to enact coronavirus surge measures, the situation at the two Gilbert hospitals treating COVID-19 patients is less clear.

Dignity Health, parent to Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, is implementing its surge plans at its hospitals, but Communications Director Carmelle Malkovich said in an email to Community Impact Newspaper that Dignity is not releasing hospital-specific capacity numbers because they are fluid and can change at any time.

Malkovich said Dignity’s hospitals are actively transitioning some care areas to create more capacity for COVID-19 patients.

“Our hospitals have been planning for a surge of COVID-19 patients since the pandemic initially spread to our community,” she wrote. “Our plans are in place and constantly assessed to ensure that we rapidly respond to the specific needs of our patient population. We are prepared and committed to meet the needs of our community.”

At Banner Health, parent to Banner Gateway, Nancy Neff, the public relations and marketing program director, said in an email the system is actively planning for a surge, and each individual hospital is addressing its own unique surge planning needs to ensure adequate staffing and beds for the growing number of patients.

"We are continuing to load balance between our hospitals, which means we are able to shift patients and resources across the system to help ensure no one hospital is overwhelmed with patients," Neff wrote.

Banner also recently contracted with and onboarded more than 200 experienced registered nurses to help address staffing needs, according to Neff.

The system is urging the public to do its part in stopping the spread by wearing masks; physically distancing; washing hands, or at least using hand sanitizer; and staying home when sick.

Gilbert's third hospital, Banner MD Anderson, is an outpatient cancer treatment center and does not treat COVID-19 patients.
By Tom Blodgett
Raised in Arizona, Tom Blodgett has spent 30 years in journalism in Arizona and is the editor of the Gilbert edition of Community Impact Newspaper. He is a graduate of Arizona State University, where he now serves as an instructional professional in the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication and editorial adviser to The State Press, the university's independent student media outlet.


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