What’s it like to be an Arizona health care worker during COVID-19?

Aug 10, 2020

Arizona Republic, by Taylor Seely —Health care workers in Arizona are struggling through the burdens of a public health crisis that has hospitalized thousands of Arizonans and pushed emergency rooms and ICUs near full capacity.

With higher than usual patient-to-nurse ratios, stringent PPE protocols and looming fears over exposing their loved ones to the novel coronavirus, health care workers in Arizona are feeling tired, dejected and desperate for lawmakers and the public to take COVID-19 seriously.

“They’ve been trying to do two to one ICU patients to a nurse, but that’s starting to be hard,” Miranda Dunkelbarger, an ICU nurse in Apache Junction, said. Some days she said she’s had three patients at a time.

When New York emerged as a national hotspot in March and April and became the subject of eye catching stories about overwhelmed hospitals and mass graves for the dead, health care workers in Arizona watched in both fear and trepidation–How long before it came to Arizona?

By early August, the novel coronavirus infected more than 185,000 Arizonans and killed more than 4,000. In June and July, Arizona was thrust in the national spotlight as a global hotspot, at one point recording a 25% positivity rate of tests conducted, a key COVID-19 metric.

This week’s episode of Valley 101, a podcast from The Arizona Republic and azcentral.com, follows Dr. Brad Dreifuss and nurse Miranda Dunkelbarger. Dreifuss is an emergency physician based in Tucson and co-founder of HCW HOSTED, a coalition dedicated to building pandemic preparedness plans for communities.

Producer Taylor Seely dives into what they’re experiencing and what they want people to know about their work.

NOTE: Valley 101 is intended to be heard. But we also offer a transcript of the episode. There may be slight deviations from the podcast audio.