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Colorado addresses hospital staffing crisis, COVID boosters

November 10, 2021 GMT

DENVER (AP) — Colorado has reactivated crisis guidelines for staffing at healthcare systems across the state as COVID-19 hospitalizations and infections continue to rise, and state health officials said Tuesday that anyone 18 and older qualifies for a booster shot.

“Crisis standards of care” allow hospitals to maximize the care they can provide in their communities with the staff they have available.

More than a third of hospitals reporting to the state said they expected a shortage of intensive care beds in the next week, and nearly two in five said they would be short-staffed, The Denver Post reported. On Tuesday afternoon, 1,426 people were hospitalized statewide with COVID-19.

The crisis guidelines allow hospitals to redirect health care workers to help out in strained units, with an experienced worker overseeing them; consider having nurses work longer, ideally less-frequent shifts; if possible, have family members or volunteers help patients with hygiene to free up medical staff; and activate the Colorado National Guard for nonclinical jobs, like COVID-19 testing or delivering supplies.

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The guidelines do not apply to emergency medical services, acute care facilities, out-of-hospital care providers, specialty patient populations or to personal protective equipment.

Meanwhile, Jessica Bralish, a spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, said all adults in the state are eligible for a booster shot because they live or work in a high risk area, a guideline put in place by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“With an estimated 1 in 48 Coloradans infected, it is likely that all Coloradans can be exposed to COVID-19 where they live or work,” she said.