Colorado Implements Crisis Standards of Care Plan Amid Staff Shortage

Colorado activated its crisis care standards plan Tuesday to help hospitals determine how to assign limited staffing as emergency shortages and COVID-19 admissions rattle healthcare systems across the state.

the implemented status crisis standards specifically to allow hospitals to prioritize care for certain healthcare workers, with nearly 40 percent of hospitals expecting shortages within the next week, according to state data.

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

“Activating staffing crisis care standards enables health care systems to maximize the care they can provide in their communities with the staff that are available to them,” said State Medical Director Eric France.

But activating standards of care in a crisis does not mean that residents should avoid “necessary medical care,” he said, including going to the emergency room.

Twenty months after the pandemic, Colorado healthcare workers, like many across the country, face COVID-19 infections, increased workloads, and burnout, contributing to staff shortages.

To address this, the state suggests reducing meetings and administrative responsibilities during such a crisis, reducing documentation requirements, and changing staff schedules to avoid fatigue.

Hospitals must inform the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment when they activate and deactivate crisis care standards.

The State Standards of Care Crisis is not in effect for emergency medical services, acute care facilities and hospitals, out-of-hospital care providers, or personal protective equipment. Elective procedures are still allowed, although the department noted that individual hospitals may decide to stop them to redeploy staff.

For patients, crisis care standards for staffing can alter the staff-to-patient ratio, allowing healthcare workers to “serve more patients,” according to the department.

Governor Jared PolisJared Schutz PolisOvernight Health Care – Democrats secure agreement on drug prices Colorado governor warns of rationed care as state reaches 80% vaccination threshold Biden’s administration approves Colorado’s expansion of coverage of transgender health MORE (D) has already sought to block any hospital overflows through an executive order that allows health systems to transfer patients so that hospitals can remain below capacity.

The state currently has 72 percent of its hospital beds filled, 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 beds are occupied, including 35 percent with confirmed coronavirus patients. A total of 51 percent of its critical care ventilators are busy, according to state data.

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

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