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Idaho Is "Dangerously Close" To Crisis Standards Of Care

Empty hospital corridor
Kevin Morris
Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen visited a Treasure Valley intensive care unit last weekend.

“It's really hard to describe the amount of sadness and suffering that's occurring there," he told reporters during a media briefing Tuesday.

Hospitalizations because of COVID-19 in the state are nearing peaks reached last winter, while ICU admissions have already surpassed that point.

Like last winter, hospitals are resorting to treating patients in hallways and conference rooms. Jeppesen said they're over capacity, bringing the state “dangerously close” to crisis standards of care — the stage when hospitals begin rationing life-saving interventions.

Once again, emergency departments are trying to figure out where to send patients they don’t have room for. And Jeppesen said there isn’t always a clear answer.

“In fact, we've had one today where a patient needed to come out of a rural setting and we were unable to find an ICU bed this morning," he said on Tuesday's call. "We hope one opens up this afternoon. But that's that's kind of where we are at the state level.“

The situation in primary care clinics is similar, said Primary Health Group CEO Dr. David Peterman. His primary care clinics in the Treasure Valley set a record this month for the number of patients in urgent care in each day.

"If primary care cannot see the patients and in a sense, triage them, or do what's necessary to keep them out of the hospital, I'm very concerned," he said.

Health officials continue to promote the vaccine as the solution to this crisis. The number of weekly doses given out in Idaho has increased during the last month.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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