Idaho ration health care statewide as COVID outbreak continues

BOISE, Idaho (AP) – Public health officials in Idaho on Thursday expanded statewide healthcare rationing amid a massive increase in the number of coronavirus patients requiring treatment. hospitalization.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare made the announcement after the St. Luke Health System, Idaho’s largest hospital system, asked health officials in the Idaho on Wednesday. State to authorize “crisis care standards” because the increase in the number of COVID-19 patients has drained the state’s medical resources.

Idaho is one of the least vaccinated U.S. states, with only about 40% of its residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Only Wyoming and West Virginia have lower vaccination rates.

Crisis care standards mean scarce resources like intensive care beds will be allocated to patients most likely to survive. Other patients will be treated with less effective methods or, in extreme cases, will benefit from pain relief and other palliative care.

Thursday’s decision came a week after officials in Idaho began allowing health care rationing at hospitals upstate.

“The situation is dire – we do not have enough resources to adequately treat patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for COVID-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident,” said Dave Jeppesen , director of the Idaho Department of Social Affairs. in the statement.

He urged people to get vaccinated and wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor places.

“Our hospitals and health systems need our help. The best way to end the standards of crisis care is to get more people immunized. This greatly reduces your chances of having to go to the hospital if you get sick with COVID-19, ”Jeppesen said.

One in 201 Idaho residents tested positive for COVID-19 in the past week, according to a count from Johns Hopkins University. The predominantly rural state ranks 12th in the United States for new confirmed cases per capita. More than 1,300 new cases of the coronavirus were reported to the state on Wednesday, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Hospitalizations have exploded. On September 13, the most recent data available from the state showed that 678 people were hospitalized statewide with coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit beds has remained mostly stable over the past two weeks at 70 people per day – suggesting the state may have reached the limit of its ability to treat intensive care patients.

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While all hospitals in the state can now ration health care resources as needed, some may not need to take this step. Each hospital will decide how to implement the standards of crisis care in its own facility, public health officials said.

Kootenai Health in the town of Coeur d’Alene was the first hospital in the state to officially enter crisis care standards last week.

At the time, chief of staff Dr Robert Scoggins said some patients were being treated at a conference center that had been converted to a field hospital. Others were treated in corridors or in converted emergency halls. Urgent and elective surgeries are on hold across much of the state.

As of Wednesday, nearly 92% of all COVID-19 patients in St. Luke hospitals were unvaccinated. Sixty-one of 78 patients in the hospital’s intensive care unit had COVID-19.

Public health officials have warned Idaho residents for weeks to take extra precautions to ensure they do not end up in hospitals. Last week, Jeppesen said residents should take their medications as prescribed, wear their seat belts and reconsider their participation in any activity like biking that could lead to injury.

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