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Idaho’s Overcrowded Hospitals Force ‘Crisis Standards’

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Sep. 9, 2021 -- Idaho officials have instituted “crisis standards of care” to help 10 hospitals and health care systems decide how to allocate personnel and resources to deal with a crush of COVID-19 patients.

“Crisis standards of care is a last resort. It means we have exhausted our resources to the point that our healthcare systems are unable to provide the treatment and care we expect,” state Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said in a news release. “This is a decision I was fervently hoping to avoid.”

The crisis standards are for the hospitals in two health districts in the state’s panhandle and north central areas.

“When crisis standards of care are in effect, people who need medical care may experience care that is different from what they expect,” the news release said. “For example, patients admitted to the hospital may find that hospital beds are not available or are in repurposed rooms (such as a conference room) or that needed equipment is not available.”

Idaho has a low vaccination rate and health experts fear that the state could be dealing with up to 30,000 new COVID cases per week by mid-September if current trends continue, The Associated Press reported.

The state’s COVID dashboard said that as of Sept. 5, 346 people in Idaho were hospitalized with COVID-19, with 93 of them in intensive care. That’s down from the more than 500 people hospitalized on Sept. 1.

The dashboard says Idaho has recorded more than 228,000 infections and 2,400 COVID-related deaths since the pandemic began.

“We have reached an unprecedented and unwanted point in the history of our state,” Gov. Brad Little said. “We have taken so many steps to avoid getting here, but yet again we need to ask more Idahoans to choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Hospitals report severe staff shortages in nursing, housekeeping, and other positions because workers are burned out or affected by the pandemic, The Associated Press said.

The governor recently tried to fill the staffing gap by calling in 220 medical workers through federal programs and mobilizing 150 Idaho National Guard soldiers.

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. “Idaho activates Crisis Standards of Care in North Idaho due to of surge in COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization”

The Associated Press: Idaho enacts crisis hospital care standards amid COVID surge

Idaho Division of Public Health. Idaho COVID-19 Dashboard

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