Arizona Respiratory Therapists Head to Colorado to Help With COVID-19 Patients

By Jessica Swarner

April 13, 2020

Colorado has seen about 4,000 more cases of coronavirus than Arizona so far. 

Four respiratory therapists are in northern Colorado helping their colleagues treat COVID-19 patients, Phoenix-based healthcare provider Banner Health announced this weekend.

As of Monday, Arizona had a total of 3,702 COVID-19 cases and 122 deaths. As of Saturday (the most recent data available), Colorado had 7,303 cases and 290 deaths.

The medical professionals flew to Banner’s North Colorado Medical Center in Greeley – 60 miles north of Denver – in a private charter jet provided for free by Swift Aviation, a Phoenix transportation company. The private flight allowed the therapists to social distance from the general public and arrive faster. 

The group will stay in Colorado for two to four weeks based on staffing needs. 

close up of sign that says "Thank you for coming to Colorado #OneBanner"
Banner Health Photo

Jessica Stingle, who normally works at Banner Boswell Medical Center in Sun City, said she will be sharing her knowledge gained from treating COVID-19 patients with her Colorado counterparts.

“I work with the ventilators, so I have knowledge of what’s going on in the lungs and how to try to help these people,” Stingle said in a Banner Health video.

“It’s been hard because these people have nobody with them, and so we do our best to make sure that they’re not alone,” she added.

As the therapists arrived this weekend, five nurses were returning to Phoenix from the Colorado hospital after a two-week assignment. The nurses were part of a group of 10 – the other five are staying for an additional two weeks. 

One of those nurses was Jessica Flake. She treated COVID-19 patients in a progressive care unit, which is one step below the intensive care unit, where patients who must be intubated are placed. 

Flake said it’s “scary” how fast patients can go from being stable to needing a ventilator.

“You are continuously monitoring these patients, and they change so quickly,” Flake said in a press release. “Multiple patients can change on you within minutes.”

group of people wearing medical masks talking on concourse
Banner Health Photo

Flake said she’s glad for the opportunity to collaborate across hospitals.

“It takes a team to help with these patients, especially just with the hands, as well as the knowledge,” she said. “Everyone’s brains combined together helps making these patients become better.”

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  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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