GREELEY, Colo. (March 29, 2020) – As the number of hospitalized patients with COVID-19 continues to grow, Banner Health is importing teams of critical nurses to its hardest hit hospitals in Colorado for much needed support.
Ten nurses from three Banner hospitals in the Phoenix area arrived Sunday in Greeley to serve a two-week assignment at North Colorado Medical Center. Their travel by private jet was made possible by a donation from Jerry Moyes, founder, chairman and CEO of Phoenix-based Swift Transportation, one of the largest trucking companies in the United States and owner of Swift Aviation. The donation was made to the Banner Health Foundation.
"The community has always been good to us," Moyes said. "When I heard what they are doing, what they are going through—the sacrifice—it made it pretty easy for us to volunteer and make it much easier for them to fly up private."
Patti Farmer, human resources business partner for Banner Health Western Region, said being a part of a large health care system makes it possible to shift resources where they are needed most. According to Johns Hopkins University, as of Saturday afternoon, Colorado reported 1,740 cases of COVID-19 and 31 deaths while Arizona had 773 cases and 15 deaths. Banner Health hospitals in Greeley, Fort Collins and Loveland all currently are treating patients who have tested positive or are awaiting results of COVID-19 and have enacted surge plans to increase capacity for critical care services.
"The thing that has been the most exciting about this is being able to tell our team who are working hard right now that because we’re part of a larger system, we can get these resources so quickly," Farmer said. "I'm blown away."
Lindsey Stewart is among the team of 10 who've deployed to northern Colorado. Her typical assignment is as a registered nurse in the cardiovascular intensive care unit at Banner Heart Hospital in Mesa. However, her background is in respiratory intensive care, which is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stewart recalls getting final word of the assignment Friday.
"My manager, Erin, texted and said, ‘Hey, we got the go ahead. I need you to do a few things,’" she said. "At that moment, it was like, ‘Wow, this is so surreal.’ I didn’t hesitate. I want to help. I mean, you sign up to be a nurse to do stuff like this."
Stewart has a message for her fellow nurses and other medical professionals who may not currently work in the hospital setting.
"We have travel agencies all across the country," Stewart said. "Reach out to them; there are crisis needs everywhere. They need help. It's not permanent—that's the biggest thing. People who have stepped away from bedside and are doing other jobs—we still, we still need help."
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Headquartered in Arizona, Banner Health is one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country. The system owns and operates 28 acute-care hospitals, Banner Health Network, Banner – University Medicine, academic and employed physician groups, long-term care centers, outpatient surgery centers and an array of other services; including Banner Urgent Care, family clinics, home care and hospice services, pharmacies and a nursing registry. Banner Health is in six states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nebraska, Nevada and Wyoming. For more information, visit www.BannerHealth.com.
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