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Idaho activates Crisis Standards of Care in three health districts

"Once again, the situation in our hospitals and health systems is dire – we don't have enough resources to adequately treat patients."

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (IDHW) activated Crisis Standards of Care Monday morning in some southern Idaho health districts due to severe staff and blood shortages.

The three health districts affected by the crisis standard are Southwest District Health, Central District Health, and South Central District Health.

Southwest District Health

  • Adams
  • Canyon
  • Gem
  • Owyhee
  • Payette
  • Washington

Central District Health

  • Ada
  • Boise
  • Elmore
  • Valley

South Central District Health

  • Blaine
  • Camas
  • Cassia
  • Gooding
  • Jerome
  • Lincoln
  • Minidoka
  • Twin Falls

Hospital operations in Idaho have been impacted by a nationwide shortage of staff, both clinical and non-clinical, unable to work because of COVID-19.

The decision to activate a Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) was taken after Saint Alphonsus Health System made a request on Jan. 21. Dave Jeppesen, Director of IDHW, made the decision to activate only in southern Idaho after reviewing the current hospital capacity regionally. Other regions in the state may move into crisis standards of care if current COVID-19 rates continue.

Credit: KTVB

"The highly contagious Omicron variant has thrown us a curveball," Jeppesen, IDHW Director, said. "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.

The national blood shortage is significantly impacting healthcare providers as well, causing most to implement blood conservation strategies.

Credit: Idaho Health and Welfare
Map showing the seven health districts in Idaho

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Hospitals are limited in their ability to maintain intensive care beds, as a result of inadequate staffing. There is also a nationwide shortage when it comes to contracted traveling staff, which has further restricted the hospital's ability to operate.

"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," Jeppesen said.

Credit: KTVB

The decision to activate CSC will be discussed in detail during the IDHW's weekly media briefing at 2:30 p.m. MT on Tuesday. KTVB will be streaming the briefing at KTVB.com and on the KTVB YouTube channel.

Although a CSC has been activated, hospitals will implement changes as needed according to their own CSC policies. Not all hospitals will need to move to that standard of care if they are managing under their own current circumstances, and will continue to do so according to DHW.

Efforts will continue 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 hospitals are sufficiently able to provide the usual standard of care and resources to all patients. 

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says it is dedicated to strengthening the health, safety, and independence of Idahoans. Learn more at healthandwelfare.idaho.gov

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