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State rolls back Crisis Standard of Care in North Idaho

Kootenai Health

Hospitals in north Idaho are no longer under crisis standards of care. The region is the last to emerge from the state’s designation.

North Idaho has been under crisis standards of care since early September and healthcare leaders say hospitalization numbers are starting to plateau.

Jeremy Evans, Chief Regional Operations Officer for Kootenai Health, said the fall wave peaked in October when the hospital system saw about 150 covid patients. He says now the average is about 50 covid patients, which is around 25% of total patients.

“We’re not out of the woods, we’re moving from crisis standards of care to contingency standards," he said, "which means we still alter the way we care for patients slightly, but we are in a much better position to care for both them, as well as the built-up demand of our other non-covid patients due to deferred surgical procedures or care."

The change will allow the hospital to start on its backlog of surgical cases and allow the facility to return conference spaces, and other areas previously used to treat patients, return to their normal use.

Both state and local health officials say despite the change in designation, they are concerned about the new omicron variant and holiday travel.  They said they are still closely monitoring cases, and are urging people to take precautions.

“While this is good news for Idaho, we’re still watching the Omicron variant very closely because this is a precarious time,” said Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen. “Omicron seems to spread more easily between people, and we all need to keep taking precautions against COVID-19 by getting vaccinated or getting a booster dose, wearing masks in crowded areas, physically distancing from others, washing our hands frequently, and staying home if we’re sick to avoid overwhelming our healthcare systems again.” 

Rebecca White is a 2018 graduate of Edward R Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. She's been a reporter at Spokane Public Radio since February 2021. She got her start interning at her hometown paper The Dayton Chronicle and previously covered county government at The Spokesman-Review.
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