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North Idaho hospitals implement crisis standards

by MADISON HARDY
Staff Writer | September 7, 2021 1:37 PM

State officials activated Crisis Standards of Care in health care facilities across North Idaho amid an increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations and staffing shortages.

Kootenai Health requested that the state activate Crisis Standards of Care (CSC). On Monday, the CSC Activation Advisory Committee met and recommended health care entities in the Panhandle, and North Central Health Districts activate crisis standards. 

“The ability of northern Idaho hospitals and health care systems to deliver the usual standard of care has been severely affected by the staffing shortages,” an Idaho Department of Health and Welfare release said Tuesday. "All contingency measures to address these shortages had been exhausted."

Gov. Brad Little called the activation an “unprecedented and unwanted point in the history of our state” in an address Tuesday. 

According to an IDHW released Tuesday, crisis standards of care are guidelines that help health care entities “decide how to deliver the best care possible under the extraordinary circumstances of an overwhelming disaster or a public health emergency.” The goal of CSC is to extend care to as many patients as possible, IDHW said. 

According to the release, when CSC is in effect, people who need medical care may find no hospital beds, rooms, or needed equipment available to them.

IDHW Director Dave Jeppesen called CSC “a last resort.” 

“(CSC) means we have exhausted our resources to the point that our health care systems are unable to provide the treatment and care we expect,” said DHW Director Dave Jeppesen. “This is a decision I was fervently hoping to avoid.”

Jeppesen said the “best tools” Idahoans have to “turn this around” is for more people to get vaccinated and wear masks indoors and in outdoor crowded places. 

“Please choose to get vaccinated as soon as possible — it is your very best protection against being hospitalized from COVID-19,” Jeppesen said.

Little also stressed the need for Idahoans to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. 

“More Idahoans need to choose to receive the vaccine so we can minimize the spread of the disease and reduce the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations,” Little said. “Many of which involve younger Idahoans and are preventable with safe and effective vaccines.”

CSC will remain in effect until there are sufficient resources for usual standards of care. Efforts are underway to aid North Idaho health care entities, the release said. 

Hospitals and health care systems impacted are:

Panhandle (PHD1)

• Benewah Community Hospital

• Bonner General Hospital

• Boundary Community Hospital

• Kootenai Health

• Shoshone Medical Center

North Central (PHD2)

• Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics

• Gritman Medical Center

• St. Joseph Regional Medical Center

• St. Mary’s Hospitals & Clinics

• Syringa Hospital & Clinics

Info: coronavirus.idaho.gov/idaho-resources/, healthandwelfare.idaho.gov.