Polis considers triage crisis plan for hospitals

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — Gov. Jared Polis is considering a triage crisis of care plan as hospital capacity remains a big issue in Colorado. The plan would change how hospitals determine who will be admitted as the pandemic continues.

The Governor’s Expert Emergency Epidemic Response Committee approved a new triage plan Monday. Experts say the recommendation approval should serve as a wake-up call of what could come.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, [our response] was very much focused on ventilators,” said Dr. Anuj Mehta, a Denver Health physician and author of the latest GEEERC triage plan. “That’s not the crunch that we’re seeing now. We’re seeing hospital capacity at 90-95%. We’re seeing ICU capacity at 90-95%.”

New plan could mean more outpatient care

Mehta drafted the plan in coordination with various experts. Prior to the pandemic, he said hospitals would err on the side of caution for those showing up at emergency rooms.

“When in doubt, we bring people into the hospital [under normal circumstances],” Mehta explained.

But that’s not the case now. Mehta said that under the new plan, there will probably be patients who under normal situations would have been admitted but could receive safe enough care as an outpatient.

“If you go to the hospital with chest pains, and say, based on the scoring system your risk of a major cardiac event … in 60 days was less than 1%, you might have been sent home,” he said. “Now, it might be a 5% or 10% chance of a bad outcome.”

Those patients would only be released if they could call 911 and come back if needed, the plan stipulates. Hospital transfers and reducing or suspending non-urgent medical and surgical care are also at play under these crisis circumstances.

This latest triage standard of care plan comes at the heels of a staffing plan activated in early November.

The committee’s recommendations now go to Polis for consideration. If Polis is on board, an executive order would be issued allowing Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment the ability to activate the triage plan when needed.

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