Idaho deactivates crisis standards of care, hospitals remain stressed

By Ruth Brown, Idaho Reports

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare deactivated crisis standards of care Tuesday in the three southern Idaho public health districts.

The health districts activated crisis standards on Jan. 15 due to a shortage of healthy staff and a blood shortage. On Tuesday, IDHW announced shortages in staffing and blood products have stabilized.

“Even though things are improving, the number of COVID-19 cases statewide and the testing percent positivity is still very high,” said Director Dave Jeppesen in a news release. “Please continue to take the recommended precautions and get vaccinated and boosted, wear a mask in public places, and stay home if you feel sick so those numbers keep trending in the right direction.” 

Read the full IDHW press release below:

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) has deactivated Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) in the three public health districts in southern Idaho in which they had been activated in accordance with IDAPA 16.02.09 – Crisis Standards of Care For Healthcare Entities. CSC has been deactivated in Southwest District Health, Central District Health, and South Central District Health in southern Idaho because shortages in staffing and blood products have stabilized.

“Even though things are improving, the number of COVID-19 cases statewide and the testing percent positivity is still very high,” said DHW Director Dave Jeppesen. “Please continue to take the recommended precautions and get vaccinated and boosted, wear a mask in public places, and stay home if you feel sick so those numbers keep trending in the right direction.” 

Healthcare systems statewide are generally using contingency operations as circumstances are improving but variable. This means it will be some time before healthcare systems return to full normal operations. 

Healthcare systems are still experiencing variable circumstances 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 statewide coordination and resources including healthcare personnel via FEMA and existing federal contracts until the situation further stabilizes.

Deactivation process

Since entering CSC in late January, the situation in the region and across the state has been closely monitored. The process to deactivate crisis standards of care began when healthcare systems located in the part of the state under CSC reported they had moved to contingency operations instead of operating under CSC conditions as staffing levels and blood products shortages stabilized.

DHW Director Jeppesen convened the Crisis Standards of Care Activation Advisory Committee on Feb. 15, 2022, to review the situation at healthcare facilities in Southwest District Health, Central District Health, and South Central District Health in southern Idaho. The committee determined that healthcare systems in the region had moved back to contingency operations. The committee recommended to the director that crisis standards of care be deactivated. Director Jeppesen issued his decision today, on Feb. 15, under the authority vested in him through the temporary rule.

CSC timeline

  • Feb. 15, 2022: CSC deactivated in Southwest District Health, Central District Health, and South Central District Health in southern Idaho.
  • Jan. 24, 2022: CSC activated in Southwest District Health, Central District Health, and South Central District Health in southern Idaho.
  • Dec. 20, 2021: CSC deactivated in the Panhandle Health District.
  • Nov. 22, 2021: CSC deactivated in all but the Panhandle Health District.
  • Sept. 16, 2021: CSC expanded to the entire state.
  • Sept. 6, 2021: CSC activated in the Panhandle Health District in northern Idaho.

CSC background

Crisis standards of care are guidelines that help healthcare providers and systems decide how to deliver the best care possible under the extraordinary circumstances of an overwhelming disaster or public health emergency. The guidelines may be used when there are not enough healthcare resources to provide the usual standard of care to people who need it. The goal of crisis standards of care is to extend care to as many patients as possible and save as many lives as possible.

When crisis standards of care are in effect, people may get medical care that is different from what they expect. For example, patients admitted to the hospital may find that hospital beds are not available or are in repurposed rooms (such as a conference room) or that needed equipment or supplies are not available. They may have to wait for a bed to open, or be moved to another hospital in or out of state that has the resources they need.

Learn more about crisis standards of care and see an FAQ at https://coronavirus.idaho.gov/idaho-resources/


<strong>Ruth Brown</strong> | Producer
Ruth Brown | Producer

Ruth Brown grew up in South Dakota and her first job out of college was covering the South Dakota Legislature. She’s since moved on to Idaho lawmakers. Brown spent 10 years working in print journalism, including newspapers such as the Idaho Statesman and Idaho Press, where she’s covered everything from the correctional system to health care issues. She joined Idaho Reports in 2021 and looks forward to telling stories about how state policy can impact the lives of regular Idahoans.

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