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Boise woman goes to California for surgery amid crisis standards of care

Chelsea Titus has endometriosis and needs surgery to get an ovary removed. With Idaho hospitals overwhelmed from COVID patients, Titus went to California.

PALO ALTO, Calif. — The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare declared statewide crisis standards of care Sept. 16 as Idaho hospital systems are overwhelmed with an increase of COVID-19 patients.

The declaration cited, "[St. Luke's] had previously canceled 'green' surgeries and on September 15th canceled 'yellow' surgeries which include removal of low risk cancers, fractures with pain and hernia repairs."

Over a week later, some Idahoans are seeing the impacts from hospital systems that are stretched to their limits. Chelsea Titus has endometriosis and has been unable to receive the necessary surgery to remove an ovary in Idaho.

"It's extremely painful, especially when I'm having a flare, and I'm having a flare right now," Titus said. "Last weekend I was on the phone quite a few times with on-call [St. Luke's] doctors trying to manage my pain and my nausea, and they just kept saying, 'because we're in crisis standards there's nothing the hospitals can do for you.'"

Titus couldn't even receive a CT scan to confirm what was causing her pain. Under crisis standards of care this is to be expected, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

"This is serious; your ability to receive care in a hospital will likely be affected. It may look very different than how you have received care in the past," according to the IDHW website. "Surgeries are being postponed, emergency departments are full, and there may not be any beds for patients to be admitted to the hospital."

Because of this reality, Titus flew to Palo Alto, California to be seen at the Stand ER on the recommendation of her OBGYN. 

"The guy at the hospital that was transporting me for my CT scan was stopping people in the hallway to say, 'You'll never believe this, this person had to fly here from Idaho because she couldn't get care in their hospitals'." Titus said. "And then I think about the people in Idaho that can't come to California they can't come to wherever to get surgery. And they’re just at home suffering. It breaks my heart and makes me so sad. I feel like it was so avoidable."

Titus is scheduled to undergo surgery Sept. 29 at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, California. The Bay Area has some of the highest vaccination rates in California. And in Santa Clara County - where Titus is now - 83.7% of the eligible population is fully vaccinated, according to the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.

"They're basically having normal life out here. Where as at home, I can't get the care that need," Titus said. "If Idaho were not in crisis standards of care, I would be at home with my family and I would be recovering right now. And I wouldn't be in massive amount of pain, away from home, waiting for a surgery."

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