Colorado hospitals move to highest level of statewide transfer plan

The Colorado Hospital Association announced Wednesday that it was moving to the highest level of its plan to ease transfers between hospitals — a point not reached even during the worst of the COVID-19 surge in the fall and winter of 2020.

The state’s hospitals had been operating under the first tier of their transfer plan since August, when COVID-19 cases began increasing in Colorado as the delta variant took over.

Tier 1 was similar to a “buddy system,” where smaller hospitals were paired with hospital networks, which have more resources to coordinate transfers, said Cara Welch, spokeswoman for the Colorado Hospital Association. They skipped over Tier 2, which would have involved coordinating transfers on a regional level, and went straight to Tier 3, where hospital leaders across Colorado will be working together, she said.

“The need is going to be statewide,” she said. “It’s really about maximizing what’s there.”

The transfer plan, which was activated in November 2020, never got past Tier 1 last year.

The people in charge of transfers for the hospital systems will meet virtually twice each day to figure out where beds are available and which patients can move into them safely, Welch said. For example, if a metro-area hospital needs to free up beds for sicker patients, it could arrange a transfer to a rural facility, where those who are on the mend can finish their recovery, she said.

Some of those two-way transfers happened last year, with sicker patients moving to cities and recovering ones heading to smaller hospitals.

A statewide order issued Sunday laid the groundwork for moving to Tier 3 by requiring all hospitals to accept transfers and giving them permission to send patients to any hospital that can care for their needs, even if it’s not one the patient would prefer, Welch said. The plan is to try to keep patients as close to home as possible, both for their convenience and to avoid unnecessarily long trips that tie up ambulances. But some patients may be cared for farther from home, she said.

“We need to be able to move patients where there are resources,” she said.

Colorado’s COVID-19 numbers continued to trend the wrong way in the middle of the week. Outbreaks kept rising and were at their highest level since Colorado changed its criteria and stopped counting clusters involving fewer than five cases in most settings. Long-term care facilities still have to declare an outbreak after two related cases.

As of Wednesday, the state had 607 active outbreaks. Schools accounted for the largest share of the outbreaks, with 242, followed by nursing homes and assisted living facilities, with 79 and 77, respectively.

Welch appealed to Coloradans to protect hospital capacity by getting vaccinated against COVID-19, wearing masks in public, avoiding crowds and washing their hands frequently. While the majority of current hospitalizations aren’t caused by the virus, those that are can most likely be prevented in the short term, she said — unlike heart attacks and strokes, where a person’s risk builds up over years or decades.

“We really do need help from the public,” she said.

Source: Read Full Article