CORONAVIRUS

Idaho rations health care statewide as COVID surge drags on

Sep 16, 2021, 10:42 AM
FILE (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)...
FILE (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho public health leaders on Thursday expanded health care rationing statewide amid a massive increase in the number of coronavirus patients requiring hospitalization.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare made the announcement after St. Luke’s Health System, Idaho’s largest hospital network, on Wednesday asked state health leaders to allow “crisis standards of care” because the increase in COVID-19 patients has exhausted the state’s medical resources.

Idaho is one of the least vaccinated U.S. states, with only about 40% of its residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Only Wyoming and West Virginia have lower vaccination rates.

Crisis care standards mean that scarce resources like ICU beds will be allotted to the patients most likely to survive. Other patients will be treated with less effective methods or, in dire cases, given pain relief and other palliative care.

Thursday’s move came a week after Idaho officials started allowing health care rationing at hospitals in northern parts of the state.

“The situation is dire – we don’t have enough resources to adequately treat the patients in our hospitals, whether you are there for COVID-19 or a heart attack or because of a car accident,” Idaho Department of Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said in statement.

He urged people to get vaccinated and wear masks indoors and in crowded outdoor settings.

“Our hospitals and health care systems need our help. The best way to end crisis standards of care is for more people to get vaccinated. It dramatically reduces your chances of having to go to the hospital if you do get sick from COVID-19,” Jeppesen said.

One in every 201 Idaho residents tested positive for COVID-19 over the past week, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University. The mostly rural state ranks 12th in the U.S. for newly confirmed cases per capita. More than 1,300 new coronavirus cases were reported to the state on Wednesday, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Hospitalizations have skyrocketed. On Sept. 13, the most recent data available from the state showed that 678 people were hospitalized statewide with coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 patients in intensive care unit beds has stayed mostly flat for the last two weeks at 70 people each day — suggesting the state may have reached the limit of its ability to treat ICU patients.

Though all of the state’s hospitals can now ration health care resources as needed, some might not need to take that step. Each hospital will decide how to implement the crisis standards of care in its own facility, public health officials said.

Kootenai Health in the city of Coeur d’Alene was the first hospital in the state to officially enter crisis standards of care last week.

At the time, chief of staff Dr. Robert Scoggins said some patients were being treated in a conference center that had been converted into a field hospital. Others received treatment in hallways or in converted emergency room lobbies. Urgent and elective surgeries are on hold across much of the state.

On Wednesday, nearly 92% of all of the COVID-19 patients in St. Luke’s hospitals were unvaccinated. Sixty one of the hospital’s 78 intensive care unit patients had COVID-19.

Public health officials have warned Idaho residents for weeks to take extra care to ensure they don’t end up in hospitals. Last week, Jeppesen said residents should take their medications as prescribed, wear seatbelts and reconsider participating in any activities like cycling that could lead to injuries.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Coronavirus

FILE: Davis School District....
Mike Anderson

Davis School District adds resources to handle COVID-19

The Davis School District is shifting their approach to COVID, putting more decisions in the hands of parents while getting more funds to help monitor the virus.
2 days ago
(KSL TV)...
Associated Press

CDC drops quarantine, distancing recommendations for COVID

The nation's top public health agency relaxed its COVID-19 guidelines Thursday, dropping the recommendation that Americans quarantine themselves if they come into close contact with an infected person.
3 days ago
...
Ashley Moser

Utah family hasn’t seen father in nearly 1,000 days due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

“None of us were expecting to not see him three years later,” a daughter shares how her Father remains in China.
4 days ago
People line up for nucleic acid testing in Sanya, 'China's Hawaii', on August 6. (VCG/Getty Images)...
Simone McCarthy and CNN's Beijing bureau

Covid lockdown strands 80,000 tourists in ‘China’s Hawaii’

Around 80,000 tourists are stranded in the popular resort city of Sanya on China's tropical Hainan island after authorities announced lockdown measures to stem an outbreak of Covid-19.
7 days ago
TOKYO, JAPAN - JUNE 29: Women in rental kimonos walk through the Asakusa area on June 29, 2022 in T...
Lilit Marcus, CNN

Japan is open to travel. So why aren’t tourists coming back?

Even though Japan partially reopened its borders for tourists, only about 1,500 visitors went to the country during its peak travel season.
14 days ago
President Joe Biden removes his mask as he delivers remarks on the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 ...
ZEKE MILLER, Associated Press

Biden tests positive for COVID-19, returns to isolation

The White House says President Joe Biden tested positive for COVID-19 again Saturday, slightly more than three days after he was cleared to exit coronavirus isolation.
15 days ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Idaho rations health care statewide as COVID surge drags on