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Idaho hospitals are so overwhelmed they’re reaching out to other states in the West

Idaho hospitals has seen a massive surge of COVID-19

Registered nurse Ann Enderle checks on a COVID-19 patient at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise, Idaho.
Nurse Ann Enderle checks on a COVID-19 patient in the medical intensive care unit at St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center in Boise, Idaho.
Kyle Green, Associated Press

Idaho hospitals are so overwhelmed with coronavirus cases that they’re reaching out to hospitals across the West to find help for critical care patients, according to NBC News.

  • One hospital — the Kootenai Health, a hospital in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho — turned a conference room into a COVID-19 overflow unit and started paying nurses $250 per hour to work there. All of this is because of the ongoing coronavirus surge.
  • “It’s just nonstop trying to find placement for these patients and the care that they need,” said Brian Whitlock, the president and CEO of the Idaho Hospital Association, per NBC News. “It really is a minute-by-minute assessment of where beds are open, and hospitals saying we don’t know where we’re going to put the next one.”

Is Idaho still in crisis of COVID?

On Sept. 7, Idaho enacted its “crisis standards of care” to deal with the COVID-19 surge with a warning that some patients might not get the care they need to fight off COVID-19, as I wrote for the Deseret News.

  • “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,” Idaho Gov. Brad Little said in a statement.

What does ‘crisis standards of care’ mean?

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare warned “residents that they may not get the care they would normally expect if they need to be hospitalized,” according to The Associated Press.

  • The act allowed hospitals to use resources — like ICU rooms — for patients who are most likely to survive, according to The Associated Press.
  • Though patients will still receive care, some would be placed in “hospital classrooms or conference rooms rather than traditional hospital rooms or go without some lifesaving medical equipment,” per the AP.

How Idaho seeks help for COVID-19 surge

Now, Idaho is having to reach out to hospitals elsewhere for help. And it’s taking hours to find place, said Dr. David Pate, former president and CEO of St. Luke’s Health System in Boise.

“You’re taking seven to eight hours to call a bunch of hospitals to see if one will take your patient who might face a time-sensitive emergency,” Pate told NBC News. “Seven to eight hours might mean that patient won’t survive.”