Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic has not reached the catastrophic levels in Yuma County that have been experienced in other parts of the country.

But if it ever does, Yuma Regional Medical Center is now better prepared to deal with any spike in the numbers, thanks in large part to the Cocopah Indian Tribe and Quechan Indian Tribe.

Thursday it was revealed that the two Yuma-area tribal nations donated 10 portable ventilator systems to YRMC, bringing the total number available at the Yuma hospital to 51.

“This is huge for us,” said Dr. Robert Trenschel, President and CEO at YRMC.

“We haven’t reached our maximum capacity, which we are thankful for, but if the pandemic were to get worse, this helps.”

Trenschel said that as of Thursday afternoon, “today’s count, in terms of COVID patients, is 14 or 15 on ventilators and some other non-COVID patients that are on ventilators as well.

“This brings our count up to 51 (ventilators), which not only helps us be prepared for this pandemic but to be prepared for any pandemic that we might have to deal with.”

Trenschel explained that the federal government allocated 100 ventilators to the Indian tribes in Arizona, and the Quechan Tribe and Cocopah Tribe, through the Arizona Department of Health, each received five ventilators.

“And they didn’t have the resources, to my understanding, to utilize them so they donated them to us,” he said.

“We’re very fortunate that they chose to do that. This just demonstrates to us the strength of that community partnership we have with the Cocopahs and Quechans, and the trust that they have put in us, and that is something that we hold very sacred.”

The 10 ventilators are also portable models, Trenschel pointed out, and they are applicable for both pediatrics and adults.

“Portable ventilators, we don’t have a lot of those,” he said. “They can be used for transporting patients from one place to another or they can be used statically to help ventilate patients.”

The Quechan Tribal Council, in a prepared statement, said, “The health and well-being of all people is very important to us, more than ever in the current state of the world in which we live. We would like to offer our prayers and condolences to those who were infected and have lost their fight to COVID-19.

“The Quechan Indian Tribe would like to acknowledge all medical staff and health care providers of YRMC for their valiant efforts and achievements in tackling this pandemic.

“We would like to acknowledge and thank the Arizona Department of Health for helping to provide these lifesaving ventilators to those in need. To everyone who has put their lives on the line and put forth their best efforts, you are very much appreciated and every one of us is grateful to you.”

The Cocopah Tribal Council, in a prepared statement, said, “This donation is our way of supporting the community and the healthcare workers in Yuma County who are on the frontline of the fight to stop COVID19.

“Working together we will get through this difficult time. We are grateful to the staff of the Yuma Regional Medical Center for their continuing efforts and selfless dedication to keeping us all healthy. And we thank the Arizona Department of Health Services for making this donation possible.”

“We’re just very appreciative of the tribes for thinking of us and how they have supported us in the past,” said Trenschel, “and how they will continue to support us in the future.”


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