YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - At least 40 Army Reserve nurses have arrived this month to help Yuma Regional Medical Center (YRMC) to support areas of the country currently hardest hit by the pandemic.
The Associated Press reports nurses in Yuma regularly send COVID-19 patients to Phoenix for not having enough staff.
Sources say Yuma County has lagged on coronavirus testing in heavily Hispanic neighborhoods that ran out of vaccines.
This comes after Yuma County's spike in numbers come as Arizona's COVID-19 diagnosis rate ranked the worst in the U.S. over the past week, with one every 120 people.
“It’s had a significant impact on the community,” said Dr. Robert Trenschel, president and CEO of Yuma Regional Medical Center said. “We’re still likely to see another peak from New Year’s celebrations.”
YRMC officials say it's been a struggle to maintain 900 to 1,000 nurses' staffing while competing for medical workers in an overwhelmed national health care system.
The chief nursing officer at YRMC, Deb Anders said, " To ensure each nurse has no more than five or six patients at a time, the 406-bed Yuma hospital has transferred COVID-19 patients to other facilities, sometimes up to 10 a day."
Transfers are usually to a Phoenix hospital. However, a few have gone to Tucson.
As for Yuma County, its season laborers are from California and Mexican migrant workers with visas.
“Yuma is a testing desert,” said Tomas Leon, spokesman for Equality Health, which brings medical care to underserved communities. “We are taking these tests in a community-driven, culturally appropriate way to people where they are.”
Last week, the Yuma County Public Health District reported Yuma would obtain 6,900 doses.