Idaho activates crisis standards of care in three health districts in southern Idaho

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) has activated Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) this morning in accordance with IDAPA 16.02.09 – Crisis Standards of Care For Healthcare Entities in three local public health districts — Southwest District Health, Central District Health, and South Central District Health – due to severe staffing and blood shortages.

The high number of both clinical and non-clinical staff unable to work due to the impacts of COVID-19 infections coupled with a nation-wide staffing shortage limiting access to contracted traveling staff is impacting current hospital operations. It is also limiting the ability of hospitals to maintain capacity for things like intensive care beds due to inadequate staffing. Additionally, a nation-wide shortage of blood and blood products is significantly impacting healthcare systems, and most have implemented blood conservation strategies.

This action was taken after Saint Alphonsus Health System requested CSC activation. DHW Director Dave Jeppesen convened the CSC Activation Advisory Committee virtually on Jan. 21. The committee recommended that CSC be activated statewide. Director Jeppesen made the decision to activate only in southern Idaho after reviewing current hospital capacity regionally. Other regions of the state are likely to move into CSC if current COVID-19 trends continue.

“The highly contagious Omicron variant has thrown us a curve ball,” said DHW Director Jeppesen. “Once again, the situation in our hospitals and health systems is dire – we don’t have enough resources to adequately treat patients. Please get vaccinated and boosted if you can and wear a high-quality protective mask in public places. Omicron is so much more contagious than previous variants, and even though a lower percentage of cases are ending up in the hospital, the record number of cases is still putting strain on our healthcare system.”

The decision to activate CSC will be discussed in detail during DHW’s weekly media briefing at 2:30 p.m. MT on Tuesday. More details about the briefing will be available later today.

Although DHW has activated CSC, hospitals will implement as needed and according to their own CSC policies. However, not all hospitals will move to that standard of care. If they are managing under their current circumstances, they can continue to do so.

The process to initiate crisis standards of care began when resources were limited to the point of affecting medical care. DHW Director Jeppesen convened the Crisis Standards of Care Activation Advisory Committee on Jan. 21, 2022, to review all the measures that were taken to adequately staff hospitals and health systems. The committee determined that the ability of all Idaho hospitals and healthcare systems to deliver the usual standard of care has been severely affected by the severe staffing shortage and the nation-wide shortage of blood. The committee recommended to the director that crisis standards of care be activated statewide. Director Jeppesen issued his decision to activate in three health districts in southern Idaho on Jan. 24, 2022, under the authority vested in him through the temporary rule.

Efforts will continue with earnest to alleviate the resource constraints in the state caused by the massive increase in the number of COVID-19 cases. The crisis standards of care will remain in effect until there are sufficient resources to provide the usual standard of care to all patients.

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