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Regional News

Washington not yet considering crisis standards of care

Newport Hospital.jpg
Newport Hospital and Health System
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Newport Hospital serves patients in northeastern Washington's Pend Oreille County.

Many Washington hospitals are caring for more patients than at any time during the pandemic, but the state is not ready to provide them with emergency-level authority.

Washington hospital officials say the state is not yet considering a crisis standards of care designation. That would lead to rationing of health care resources as providers prioritize patients with Covid.

Crisis standards of care is a state-level designation. It’s not something individual health systems are allowed to invoke. It’s seen as a last resort. The state of Idaho used it for several months during the pandemic, but has since gone back to normal operations.

Even with no formal designation, Taya Briley from the Washington State Hospital Association says her members are taking steps to direct resources, especially staff, to the areas where they’re most needed.

“When we are doing this it means we are deviating from our normal staffing patterns due to a lack of available staff or rapid or unexpected increase in demand for services," she said. "Care teams may be caring for more patients than is normal and staff exposed to Covid-19 or who were previously infected may return to work sooner than normal.”

She says nurses returning from isolation are initially assigned to care for patients with Covid.