Colorado gives health department control over hospital admissions amid COVID surge

Colorado will allow the state's health department to order hospitals and freestanding emergency departments to transfer or cease the admission of and redirect patients to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to 9News.

Gov. Jared Polis signed an executive order Oct. 31 that authorizes the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to order hospitals and freestanding emergency departments to transfer patients or cease the admission of patients.

In the executive order, Mr. Polis referenced an increase in COVID-19 cases, largely due to the highly contagious delta variant, as well as the roughly 20 percent of Coloradans who have yet to get the vaccine. Because of these factors, he said the number of people seeking medical treatment at hospitals may exceed the capacity of any given facility.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment "may once again need to order [overwhelmed] hospitals … to cease admitting patients and may also need to transfer patients to a separate facility without first obtaining the individual's or the separate facility's written or informed consent for such transfer," the executive order reads. "The transfer of patients from hospitals that have reached capacity or are reasonably anticipated to reach capacity to other specified care facilities will help to ensure that Coloradans have adequate care as we continue to combat COVID-19 and promote public health and protect the ability of hospitals to serve those with COVID-19 and other conditions. This executive order is particularly urgent at this moment in the pandemic because statewide hospital capacity is less than 10 percent."

The order gives the state the authority to decide whether a hospital is at or expected to reach capacity, according to 9News.

The executive order will expire 30 days from Oct. 31 unless renewed.

On Oct. 31, Mr. Polis also amended and extended an executive order related to disaster recovery. The order, among other things, clarifies that crisis standards of care can be activated and directs the Colorado Division of Insurance to do emergency rule-making for prior authorization and preauthorization requirements.

Read more about the orders here

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