Idaho hospital says crush of COVID patients getting worse

October 7, 2021 GMT

COEUR D’ALENE, Idaho (AP) — The Northern Idaho hospital that was the first in the state to institute health care rationing due to surging COVID-19 cases says the situation is growing worse.

Kootenai Health reported a record 150 coronavirus inpatients on Wednesday, with 43 requiring critical care, 17 on ventilators, and two patients under the age of 18.

Panhandle Health District reported 202 new COVID-19 cases and the death toll attributed to the virus is 499.

Kootenai Health Clinical Services Director Debbie Callins said Wednesday “the numbers are going up and the staff are tired.”

Callins said the rising patient numbers have strained resources and affected the staff’s ability to care for patients.

“It’s really important to know that the fight is real, and the struggle is real,” she said. “But our teams are very strong.”

The Coeur d’Alene Press reports that Jeremy Evans, chief regional operations officer, said the facility has seen a “significant surge in our COVID volumes.” They have 35 more coronavirus patients this week than last.


The military medical response team deployed to Kootenai Health through early November has been a tremendous help, Evans said.

“The federal staffing resources that we have received have literally been a lifesaver for us,” Evans said. “In addition, we continue to maximize our own nursing staff by using team nursing models to further expand our resources and capacity.”

In September Idaho instituted crisis standards of care to give legal and ethical guidelines to health care providers when they have too many patients and not enough resources to care for them all.

The guidelines spell out exactly how health care should be rationed in order to save the most lives possible during a public health disaster.