Idaho Deactivates Crisis Standards for Much of State

A senior Idaho health official has deactivated crisis rationing guidelines for medical care in most hospitals in the state.

Idaho Department of Health and Human Services director Dave Jappessen made the decision Monday after health officials said the number of COVID-19 patients remains high but no longer exceeds health resources in most areas. Crisis standards remain in place for northern Idaho.

Jeppesen and other health officials warned of possible future outbreaks during a press conference.

“We are not spreading the mission accomplished message,” said James Souza, chief physician of the St. Luke Health System. “We do not believe this will be our last outbreak of COVID. We hope it will be the worst. “

Crisis standards of care provide legal and ethical guidance for health care providers when they have too many patients and insufficient resources to care for them all. They clearly state how health care should be rationed to save as many lives as possible during a disaster.

Idaho activated anti-crisis standards for northern Idaho on September 7 and statewide on September 16. Officials did not have a timetable for when anti-crisis standards could be lifted in Idaho’s northern borough, which spans five counties and includes Kootenai Health in Coeur. d’Alene.

Health officials said it will take time to catch up with delayed scheduled operations. They also said they expect people who were afraid to seek treatment because of crisis norms will finally come and find they need surgery too.

“It will take some time before healthcare systems are back to full normal operation,” Jappessen said. “It will also take time for health systems to process many of the delayed surgeries and other delayed treatments.”

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Jeppesen convened an Advisory Committee on Crisis Aid Standards Friday to review the situation, the agency said. The committee decided that most health systems could return to emergencies.

The agency said the deactivation process began when health systems began individually reporting that they were moving to contingency operations rather than crisis standards.

Health officials were wary of any predictions about the future of the pandemic, except that they said vaccinating more people would help.

“I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Patrice Burgess, executive medical director of Saint Alphonsus in Boise. “I don’t know exactly when it will happen yet, but I think we’ll get there.”

About 4,000 Idaho residents have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic swept the state in spring 2020, according to state officials.

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