North Idaho no longer in crisis standards of care

<p><p>North Idaho is out of crisis standards of care after nearly four months.</p></p><p><p>Faced with a surge of patients with the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19, North Idaho hospitals went into crisis standards of care on Sept. 6. The standards created a triage system in which hospitals were allowed to treat patients in nontraditional settings at times, delay procedures and surgeries, and bring in a Department of Defense team as well as traveling health care staff to help treat patients.</p></p><p><p>Now, as the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 declines in North Idaho and hospitalizations have decreased in recent weeks, the region is out of crisis standards of care.</p></p><p><p>“While this is good news for Idaho, we’re still watching the Omicron variant very closely because this is a precarious time,” Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen said in a news release.</p></p><p><p>As of Monday morning, Kootenai Health had 42 patients with COVID-19, including 19 requiring critical care.</p></p><p><p>These figures are down from earlier this fall when the hospital treated 150 patients with the virus at one point, including some who had to be treated in a resource center, away from the main hospital building.</p></p><p><p>The delta variant led to a massive surge in cases and hospitalizations this fall.</p></p><p><p>While there are now 42 patients hospitalized with COVID in Coeur d’Alene, as of Friday, 74 Panhandle residents were hospitalized with the virus. </p></p><p><p>The number of positive COVID cases and percentage of people testing positive for the virus has decreased in the past two weeks in the Panhandle.</p></p><p><p>How and when omicron might reverse these trends remains to be seen. The new variant has been detected in Ada County, and <a href=”” target=”_blank”>officials in Moscow</a> announced the virus has turned up in the city’s wastewater.</p></p><p><p>No omicron cases have been detected in North Idaho, and health officials are asking residents to take precautions.</p></p><p><p>“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 health care systems again,” Jeppesen said in a news release.</p></p><p><p>Based on declining case counts and hospitalizations, Kootenai Health asked the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare to move out of crisis standards and into contingency standards of care late last week.</p></p><p><p>The state committee voted to deactivate crisis standards, which will enable Kootenai Health to schedule surgical cases and other procedures that have been delayed.</p></p><p><p>“We sincerely thank all patients who have been waiting to receive care during the COVID-19 surge for their understanding,” a statement from Kootenai Health said.</p></p><p><p>Patients who had delayed procedures or surgeries are encouraged to reach out to their physician and see when they can be rescheduled.</p></p>