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Sickest Idaho patients move to ‘comfort care’ as health system overwhelmed with unvaccinated COVID cases


Idaho public health leaders said on Tuesday they have activated the state’s “crisis standards of care” for northern hospitals as coronavirus patients overwhelm the system.

According to the Spokesman-Review, health officials are warning that the sickest patients will be moved from full medical care to “comfort care” amid staffing shortages and surging COVID-19 patients.

The designation includes 10 hospitals and healthcare systems in the Idaho panhandle and north-central Idaho.

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“The move allows hospitals to allot scarce resources like intensive care unit rooms to patients most likely to survive,” said the Spokesman-Review.

Other patients receiving care may be moved to classrooms or conference rooms rather than hospital rooms. Some life-saving medical equipment may also be limited.

According to KTVB-TV, more than 95% of COVID-19 patients in Idaho hospitals are unvaccinated. The state has one of the lowest rates of vaccination, according to the Associated Press.

“Crisis standards of care is a last resort. It means we have exhausted our resources to the point that our healthcare systems are unable to provide the treatment and care we expect,” Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said in a statement.

He added: “This is a decision I was fervently hoping to avoid. The best tools we have to turn this around is for more people to get vaccinated and to wear masks indoors and in outdoor crowded public places. Please choose to get vaccinated as soon as possible — it is your very best protection against being hospitalized from COVID-19.”

Idaho’s hospitals have struggled to fill empty nursing, housekeeping and other health care positions, in part because some staffers have left because they are burned out by the strain of the pandemic and because others have been quarantined because they were exposed to COVID-19, said the AP.

The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.

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