‘A last resort’: Crisis standards of care activated in North Idaho as region struggles to keep up with COVID surge

Kootenai Health

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho — Crisis standards of care was activated in North Idaho early Tuesday morning as the region struggles to keep up with the latest COVID-19 surge. 

CSC was activated in the Panhandle Health District and the North Central Health District because of a severe shortage of staffing and available beds. This is because of a massive increase in COVID-19 patients who require hospitalization. 

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare described CSC as 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.” 

These guidelines may be used when there are not enough healthcare resources to provide the usual standard of care to people who need it. When CSC is activated, people who need medical care may experience care that is different from what they expect. 

“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,” said DHW Director Dave Jeppesen. “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.”

“We have reached an unprecedented and unwanted point in the history of our state. We have taken so many steps to avoid getting here, but yet again we need to ask more Idahoans to choose to receive the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Governor Brad Little. “More Idahoans need to choose to receive the vaccine so we can minimize the spread of the disease and reduce the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, many of which involve younger Idahoans and are preventable with safe and effective vaccines.”

The hospitals and healthcare systems impacted include: 

Panhandle Health District:

  • Benewah Community Hospital
  • Bonner General Hospital
  • Boundary Community Hospital
  • Kootenai Health
  • Shoshone Medical center

North Central Health District:

  • Clearwater Valley Hospital and Clinics
  • Gritman Medical Center
  • St. Joseph Regional Medical Center
  • St. Mary’s Hospitals and Clinics
  • Syringa Hospital and Clinics

RELATED: ‘Loss of hope’: Idaho hospitals crushed by COVID-19 surge

READ: ‘It just feels like we’re not able to come up for air’: North Idaho continues to grapple with COVID surge