Idaho deactivates crisis standards of care in southern half of state

By Melissa Davlin, Idaho Reports

Idaho has deactivated Crisis Standards of Care for six of the state’s seven health districts.

On Monday morning, Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced the deactivation. Only the Panhandle Health District remains under crisis standards due to a high number of cases and hospitalizations, particularly in Bonner County.

During a Monday afternoon press briefing, IDHW Director Dave Jeppesen said he made the decision to deactivate CSoC for most of the state after a Friday meeting with the state’s Crisis Standards of Care committee.

Jeppesen said most hospitals are still working in contingency operations, meaning they remain stressed with an unusually high number of patients.

“It will be some time before health care systems return to full operations,” Jeppesen said.

Part of that stress comes from deferred surgeries. Dr. Jim Souza, chief physician executive for St. Luke’s Health System, estimated the hospital system have between 7,000 to 8,000 surgical procedures that physicians either delayed or didn’t schedule.

“For our patients, we have a lot of backlogged care,” he said.

Though St. Luke’s still closed its surge treatment areas and is returning employees to their original assignments, Souza said the COVID patients still account for 40 percent of ICU admissions.

“So it’s not Mission Accomplished,” Souza said. “Instead, this is a moment we think where we can collect ourselves, reflect on the innovations that we implemented, the things that we’ve learned, and pivot looking forward to how we’re going to stop history from repeating itself by making wise decisions.”

The biggest part of that, Souza emphasized, is getting more Idahoans vaccinated.

Read the full press release and watch the media briefing from IDHW below.

Idaho deactivates crisis standards of care except for north Idaho; briefing at 1 p.m. today

With the exception of north Idaho, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) has deactivated Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) in accordance with IDAPA 16.02.09 – Crisis Standards of Care For Healthcare Entities. While the number of COVID-19 patients remains high and continues to stress healthcare systems, the surge is no longer exceeding the healthcare resources available except in north Idaho.

Crisis standards of care remains in effect in the Panhandle Health District, which encompasses Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai, Benewah, and Shoshone counties.

For the rest of the state, healthcare systems are generally using contingency operations, which means they remain stressed with an unusually high number of patients. It will be some time before healthcare systems return to full normal operations. It also will take time for the healthcare systems to work through the many delayed surgeries and other medical treatments. 

DHW, along with Saint Alphonsus Health System and St, Luke’s Health System, will hold a media briefing about crisis standards of care in Idaho at 1 p.m. (MT) Monday, Nov. 22, via Webex.

Those who will attend the briefing from DHW include Director Dave Jeppesen, Elke Shaw-Tulloch, administrator of the Division of Public Health, and Dr. Christine Hahn, state epidemiologist. In addition, Dr. Jim Souza from St. Luke’s and Dr. Patrice Burgess from Saint Alphonsus will join the briefing.

The situation at each healthcare system remains fluid and variable. Healthcare systems are still experiencing a much higher than normal number of patients and will implement their plans to return to a usual standard of operations according to their own policies. In addition, the state will continue to provide resources including healthcare personnel via FEMA and existing federal contracts until the situation further stabilizes.

Deactivation process

Since entering CSC, the situation across the state has been monitored daily. The process to deactivate crisis standards of care began when healthcare systems started individually reporting that they had moved to contingency operations instead of operating under CSC conditions.

DHW Director Jeppesen convened the Crisis Standards of Care Activation Advisory Committee on Nov. 19, 2021, to review the situation at healthcare facilities across the state. The committee determined that, except for the Panhandle Health District, healthcare systems had moved back to contingency operations and following robust evaluation processes, several had recently determined they were able to exit operating under CSC. Those healthcare facilities emphasized that while they were able to exit CSC, their operations remained stressed since patient volumes remain high. The committee recommended to the director that crisis standards of care be deactivated in all regions except for the Panhandle Health District, where case numbers and hospitalizations remain much higher than normal. Director Jeppesen issued his decision this morning, on Nov. 22, 2021, under the authority vested in him through the temporary rule.

Learn more about crisis standards of care, including an FAQ and the official declaration of deactivation, at https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/idaho-resources/

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

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