Crisis standards of care and encouraging personal responsibility: An update from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen

An update on DHW’s special board meeting

This morning, the Idaho Board of Health and Welfare met to review and vote on an administrative rule for crisis standards of care. Members considered and approved a new temporary rule that allows for the timely activation of crisis standards of care.

This new chapter outlines the circumstances under which crisis standards of care would be implemented (e.g. pandemic, natural disaster, or an extraordinary event or circumstance that overwhelms Idaho’s usual health and medical capabilities). Crisis standards of care could be implemented if Idaho’s healthcare systems become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients. This means that you (or a family member) might not get the normal or standard care needed if you were in an accident or had a healthcare emergency.

None of us want to get to that point. I would ask all of us to choose to support our doctors, nurses, and healthcare systems. So what do we, as Idahoans, need to do to protect Idaho’s healthcare system and our access to it? That’s right – wear a mask, keep 6 feet between you and people who don’t live with you, wash your hands often, and stay home as much as possible, especially if you are sick. If all of us do this, we can avoid overwhelming our healthcare system. 

Gov. Brad Little asks Idahoans to “make the right choice”

As Gov. Brad Little stated at his press conference yesterday, “If Idaho activates the crisis standards of care, you or someone you love could be denied care or given a lower standard of care … If your son or daughter gets in a car accident, there may not be a bed for them. They may have to wait. If your wife has diabetes and develops an infection, there may not be a bed for her. If your husband has a heart attack, there may not be a bed for him.”

I want to echo Gov. Little’s calls for action and for personal responsibility. We are asking all Idahoans to choose to keep small businesses open and our kids in school, and to protect healthcare workers and our economy. I appreciate everyone who is setting the example in their communities by respecting others and wearing a mask and following the recommended precautions.

Yesterday at the press conference, we heard from three different Idahoans who have experienced COVID-19 in different ways.

  • Kristen Connelly, an ICU nurse at St. Luke’s, tearfully shared a heartbreaking story about a young mother gasping for air, struggling to stay alive, only to lose her life to the virus. This was hard to hear. Kristen is seeing what is happening to our fellow Idahoans on a daily basis; she knows the true costs. As Kristen said yesterday, “I have never seen anything quite like COVID; this virus is distinct. It’s highly contagious. The truth is that we are in a pandemic, and it is devasting and catastrophic. My experience with those suffering at the greatest degree is one of illness, loneliness, isolation, and so much suffering. There is no reason as to who does well and who doesn’t. Every person in Idaho matters. Every single day, I think of the young mother we lost. I owe it to her to honor her life. She is not a number. She is a person. Can we all please come together?”
  • And, finally, Dr. Robert Scoggins, a pulmonologist with Kootenai Health reminded us that “This is not the flu. This is not like any other virus I have ever seen … COVID-19 is straining our system. Sometimes we don’t have the beds, sometimes we don’t have the staff.”

Their stories serve as solemn reminders of what we are up against with COVID-19. The stories are distressing. Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19. It is up to all of us.

Ignore the noise; find the sources of truth for COVID-19 information

As you all might guess, there is a lot of misinformation and noise in Idaho on social media and other channels. It can be distracting, but please do not get confused as to what is true and what is false or misleading. Follow the Centers for Disease and Control recommendations as well as DHW guidance for accurate updates and information.

I want to remind you that the people affected by COVID-19 is real. The suffering and isolation is real. The strain on our healthcare system is real. Choose to do the right thing for Idaho. Choose to do it for Jason, Kristen, and Dr. Scoggins. Choose to do it for your friends and neighbors in Idaho. Remember to:

  • Wear a mask in public places.
  • Stay 6 feet away from others in public places
  • Wash your hands frequently.
  • Stay home when you are sick.

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for November; third leading cause of death for 2020

The Department of Health and Welfare has announced that COVID-19 is the leading cause of death in Idaho for November, based on preliminary data collected from death certificates. It is the third leading cause of death from January 2020 through November 2020.

I hope you all have a safe and healthy weekend. #MaskUpIdaho #StaySafeStayHealthy

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