Sep 8, 2021 - Health

Idaho begins rationing medical care amid COVID surge

ER entrance at a hospital

Kootenai Health hospital in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Photo: Don and Melinda Crawford/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Idaho will begin rationing medical care in 10 of the state's overburdened hospitals in two districts, its Department of Health and Welfare announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The move comes as the state has seen a "massive increase in patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalization" compounded by a shortage of beds and equipment, amid a surge driven by the Delta variant, per a news release.

State of play: The standards will remain in place until there are "sufficient resources to provide the usual standard of care to all patients," per the release

  • “We have reached an unprecedented and unwanted point in the history of our state," Gov. Brad Little (R) wrote.

At Kootenai Health in Coeur d’Alene, patients are being treated in converted lobbies, conference rooms and hallways, AP writes.

  • Meanwhile, smaller hospitals in the state have struggled to accommodate patients with serious non-COVID related conditions, who would have otherwise been transferred to the state's larger hospitals.
  • “For the rest of the state, we remain dangerously close to crisis standards of care,” Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said Tuesday, per AP.

The big picture: Last week, Little announced he was reactivating the National Guard to help deal with the surge.

  • Idaho has reported a total of 228,093 coronavirus cases and 2,411 confirmed deaths, according to government data.
  • Less than 40% of the state's population is fully vaccinated, according to the Washington Post.
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