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Washington hospitals likely too full to help COVID patients from Idaho

Jan 25, 2022, 8:40 AM
hospitals, Harborview...
Nurse Elisa Gilbert checks on a patient in the acute care COVID-19 unit at the Harborview Medical Center on Jan. 21, 2022, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Crisis standards of care has been declared in southern Idaho, which in the past has meant more patient transfers to Washington hospitals.

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Washington State Hospital Association CEO Cassie Sauer says hospitals in the state are only required to take Idaho’s extra patients if they have room, and most hospitals don’t have that space at the moment.

“Right now, our hospitals are quite full, so there are probably not a lot of folks that can even say yes to accepting an Idaho patient,” she said.

Sauer explains that crisis care means patients with the least chance of survival can be denied treatment, so that someone who might survive can be helped. This rationed care, she says, has led to increased deaths in some areas.

“Patients have died because they’re in an ambulance that can’t find a place to put them, they’re in a hallway, they’re in a bathroom — there’s no space to care for them — there’s not enough ventilators, there’s not enough blood,” she said.

Sauer also notes that Idaho may not be in crisis right now if it had tougher COVID rules.

“It can be frustrating for Washington hospitals to have to carry the burden for Idahoans,” she said.

UW modelers: State might be able to end ‘major restrictions’ once omicron wave passes

Unfortunately, she also predicts that the crisis care declaration could expand to the entire state of Idaho.

“I suspect we may see all of Idaho back in crisis standards relatively quickly,” she said.

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Washington hospitals likely too full to help COVID patients from Idaho