Colorado implements care standards crisis care in the midst of staff shortages

Colorado on Tuesday activated its crisis care plan standards to help hospitals decide how to allocate limited staff, as emergency shortages and COVID-19 admissions are shaking health systems across the state.

That state implemented crisis standards specifically to allow hospitals to prioritize certain healthcare workers for care, as nearly 40 percent of hospitals expect shortages within the next week, according to stat data.

Under the crisis standards of care, Colorado aims to increase the availability of health care workers while improving workplace safety and workers’ resilience amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Activating crisis standards for care allows healthcare systems to maximize the care they can provide in their communities with the staff they have available,” said Chief Medical Officer Eric France.

But the activation of crisis standards for care does not mean residents must avoid “necessary health care,” he said, including going to the emergency room.

Twenty months into the pandemic, Colorado health workers, like many across the country, are facing COVID-19 infections, higher workloads and burnout, all of which contribute to staff shortages.

To address this, the state proposes to reduce meetings and administrative responsibilities during such a crisis, cut back on documentation requirements and change staffing plans to prevent fatigue.

Hospitals must inform the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment when activating and disabling crisis care standards.

The state’s crisis in terms of care standards does not apply to emergency medical services, hospitals and emergency care facilities, outside hospital care providers or personal protective equipment. Electrical procedures are still allowed, although the department noted that individual hospitals may decide to stop them to redeploy staff.

For patients, the crisis standards of care for staff may change the relationship between staff and patients, allowing healthcare professionals to “fit more patients,” according to the department.

Gov. Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisOvernight Health Care – Democrats secure a deal on drug prices. Colorado’s governor warns of rationed care as state hits 80 percent vaccination threshold Biden administration OKs Colorado’s expansion of transgender health coverage MORE (D) has already tried to block any hospital overflow through a decree allowing health systems to transfer patients so hospitals can remain below capacity.

The state currently has 72 percent of its hospital beds full, including 12.6 percent with confirmed COVID-19 patients, according to data from the Department of Health and Human Services.

In intensive care units, 85 percent of the beds are occupied, of which 35 percent with confirmed coronavirus patients. A total of 51 percent of its acute respirators are occupied, according to government data.

More than 80 percent of Colorado adults have received at least one shot.

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