Idaho Officials Warn Crisis Standard May Soon Spread; Blood Supplies Low

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Host Lede: Idaho’s Southwest Health District has moved to crisis standard of care this week due to a shortage in both hospital staff and blood supplies as COVID-19 cases rise. If things continue as they are, the rest of the state may soon follow. With more on that, NWPB’s Rachel Sun.

Sun: Though most cases of the newest COVID-19 variant are not deadly, the sheer number has overwhelmed health care workers in Southern Idaho — enough so that on Monday, the state declared crisis standards of care for their Southwest Health District.

Currently, many hospital staff are themselves out on COVID-19 leave, says Steven Nemerson, chief clinical officer for the Saint Alphonsus Health System in Boise. In the past week, they had between 117 and 169 staff call out sick. Those who remain are exhausted.

Nemerson: “They just don’t have the physical and emotional capacity to be able to work at the level that they were able to before, which was an incredibly frenetic pace and we paid the price for that at the time, and we’re seeing it now.”

The increase in cases has also resulted in a blood shortage, and most health systems in Idaho are implementing blood conservation strategies. That has the potential to impact trauma care, as well as cancer patients who require regular transfusions, and birthing mothers.

The public is encouraged to donate blood or platelets as soon as possible by visiting

Host Out: This report is made possible by the Lewis-Clark Valley Healthcare Foundation in partnership with NWPB, the Lewiston Tribune, and the Moscow-Pullman Daily news.

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