Idaho lifts crisis health standards — just not in the panhandle

However, Bonner General Health shares it is no longer operating in crisis

By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Reader Staff

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced Nov. 22 that it was deactivating crisis standards of care across the state — everywhere, except for in North Idaho.

“While the number of COVID-19 patients remains high and continues to stress health care systems, the surge is no longer exceeding the health care resources available except in north Idaho,” IDHW shared in a media release. “Crisis standards of care remain in effect in the Panhandle Health District, which encompasses Boundary, Bonner, Kootenai, Benewah and Shoshone counties.”

IDHW activated crisis standards for North Idaho in early September — and those same standards for the rest of the state just over a week later — due to the current surge of the novel coronavirus, driven largely by the aggressive Delta variant of the virus. Crisis standards are a system of operation under which health care providers must prioritize the most dire patient cases and may not be able to offer regular levels of care — such as routine surgeries — due to lack of available beds or other resources.

“For the rest of the state,” IDHW shared, referring to everywhere but the panhandle, “health care systems are generally using contingency operations, which means they remain stressed with an unusually high number of patients. It will be some time before healthcare systems return to full normal operations. It also will take time for the healthcare systems to work through the many delayed surgeries and other medical treatments.”

However, due to its individual circumstances, Bonner General Health — as of Nov. 19 — is not operating under crisis standards of care.

“The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare implemented crisis standards of care in September due to limited space and patients being admitted and treated in non-traditional areas across the state. As for BGH, we implemented CSC on Sept. 7, 2021, due to the surge of very ill patients requiring hospitalization,” BGH spokesperson Erin Binnall shared in an emailed statement to the Reader. “Unfortunately, due to our regional hospitals being at capacity during this time and up until recently, the ability to transfer those patients in need of a higher level of care was unlikely.

“Today, Nov. 19, 2021, BGH is not operating under crisis standards of care; however, this could change if our volumes increase again,” she continued.

As the pandemic reaches the 20-month mark, it appears that pressure on local health resources is slowly lessening. Binnall shared BGH’s gratitude toward the Bonner County community.

“We are grateful to serve our community, visitors and the surrounding area providing healthcare services close to home,” she said. “Thank you for your ongoing support, kindness, and patience as we work together during these ever-changing times. May you enjoy this Thanksgiving holiday and give thanks for all our blessings.”

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