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Mohave County hospitals prepped for possible surge

There could be a COVID-19 surge toward the end of April in Mohave County. (Miner file photo)

There could be a COVID-19 surge toward the end of April in Mohave County. (Miner file photo)

KINGMAN – There could be a COVID-19 surge toward the end of April in Mohave County, according to the CEOs of all Mohave County hospitals at a press conference Tuesday, April 7.

“The cases will start to tick up, not only in our community. But we can limit how tall the curve is by practices such as social distancing,” said Kingman Regional Medical Center CEO Brian Turney, repeating once again that combating the coronavirus is “a team sport.”

“The good news is we have plenty of capacity and open beds,” Michael Stenger of Western Arizona Regional Medical Center in Bullhead City said, referring to the situation at all hospitals in the county. All hospitals have received donations, especially in the form of protective gear, from businesses and community members, too.

“We are a lot smarter; much better prepared now than three weeks ago,” Stenger added.

At the same time, local hospitals are under a financial strain as a result of the pandemic. KRMC is down 30% in its revenues, Turney said, at the same time praising the 2,000 KRMC employees he works with.

“I’m proud of how our people have reacted,” he said.

And he appealed to the public to do their part and stay home to avoid spreading the virus, and help protect health care workers. “They are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters; sometimes we forget that.”

All local hospitals are now getting their COVID-19 testing results more rapidly. Kingman Regional Medical Center receives results in two days now, Turney said. In a week or so, he added, they should be able to test people in 45 minutes.

At the same time, Mohave County Public Health Director Denise Burley said there is still a shortage of testing supplies, and while working on increasing that capacity, the county is nowhere close to starting mass testing.

“We still continue to see shortages,” she said.

Burley said so far the positivity rate is fairly consistent, both in Mohave County and Arizona. The rate is 7 to 10% of all tests given, at this point and time, she said, adding that community spread is occurring and the virus is widespread. The county investigates each case and conducts a contact investigation.

Burley said she recommends the public wear face masks according to the current CDC recommendations – cloth masks and bandanas, not N95 face masks reserved for and needed by health professionals. She applauded those in the community who started to sew face masks, calling it a “commendable activity.”

“We are relying on the public,” Burley said when asked about enforcing Gov. Doug Ducey’s order to stay home. She said she would like to avoid getting the county’s law enforcement partners involved.

“Go out only when you absolutely need to,” said Mike Patterson of Lake Havasu Medical Center.

Stenger said the hospitals are prepared.

“We have a game plan,” he said. “Stay calm and do not panic because we are prepared for this.”

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