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DENVER (KDVR) — The Colorado chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians sent a letter to Gov. Jared Polis saying the healthcare system is on the brink of collapse.

“It’s just a really challenging environment,” said Dr. Jamie Dhaliwal, medical director at St. Anthony North Hospital and board member of the Colorado Chapter of ACEP. “We are struggling,” he said.

The group’s letter says “we are at a breaking point” and points to large numbers of COVID and non-COVID patients, combined with a staff shortage, that decreases the number of available beds. The letter points to a lack of patient access to rapid testing and a need for hospitals to share the load.

“We are on a regular basis having to take care of patients in alternative care venues. What I mean by that is spaces in our emergency departments where we don’t typically care for patients: hallways, side rooms, waiting rooms,” Dhaliwal said.

The group is requesting better communication with the public about where and when to get care. Some of the patients who are going to emergency departments just want a COVID test. The group wants the state to provide financial incentives to healthcare workers to come and stay in Colorado.

“There are some financial levers that I think we could potentially use, specifically loan forgiveness and hazard pay,” the doctor said.

The group wants the state to activate crisis standards of care for hospitals and to help rural hospitals struggling to provide care.

“We need to do something in addition to what we are already doing because the situation has become that critical,” Dhaliwal said.