'A last resort': Crisis standards of care enacted in Northern Idaho

Idaho activated crisis standards of care Sept. 6 for hospitals in the state's northern region, which are facing severe shortages of staff and available beds amid the latest COVID-19 surge. 

The state's Crisis Standards of Care Activation Advisory Committee met Sept. 6 after Kootenai Health in Coeur d'Alene requested they be implemented, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. The committee recommended the state activate them after determining that staffing shortages had severely hindered hospitals' ability to provide the usual standard of care and that all other contingency measures had been exhausted. 

The activation affects 10 hospitals in North Central Idaho and the panhandle. These facilities will implement crisis standards of care as needed and according to their own policies, the health department said. Crisis standards of care will remain in effect until hospitals have sufficient resources to provide the usual standard of care to all patients, the department added. 

"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," Dave Jeppesen, director of the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, said in a Sept. 7 news release. "This is a decision I was fervently hoping to avoid. The best tools we have to turn this around is for more people to get vaccinated and to wear masks indoors and in outdoor crowded public places."

Idaho has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with just 40 percent of the population fully vaccinated as of Sept. 7, according to the CDC's data tracker. As of Sept. 5, 346 patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 were hospitalized in Idaho, state data shows. 


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