Cody Regional Health Implements “Crisis Standards of Care”
Written by Andrew-Rossi on September 9, 2021
As COVID-19 cases relentlessly climb, Cody Regional Health implements “disaster protocols” to ensure patients get the best care possible in dire circumstances.
The healthcare situation in Cody is getting more critical by the day. The current surge is on track to surpass the initial surge in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths related to COVID-19, mainly the highly contagious Delta variant.
As the COVID climate continues to deteriorate, Cody Regional Health is making difficult choices. While it continues to offer the best treatment to all its patients, it’s becoming more difficult for the hospital’s limited and exhausted staff.
On Sept. 8, Cody Regional Health released a statement. In it, the hospital announced it implemented the Wyoming Department of Health Crisis Standards of Care to “manage the large influx of COVID patients in addition to summer patient volumes.”
“The guiding principle of CSC is to do the greatest good for the greatest number of persons and is defined as a major change in usual healthcare operations,” the statement reads. “This can affect the level of care provided which is made necessary by some pervasive or catastrophic disaster, in this case, COVID-19.”
The possibilities of these standards are stark: double occupancy units, no elective surgeries, and no out-of-state transfers for critical cases.
“We are possibly going to a different standard of care soon, due to this major change in our health care operations to meet patient needs. This could mean double occupancy in our ACU/CCU units,” states Elise Lowe, MD, Hospitalist at CRH. “We have communicated our situation with the Big Horn Basin Healthcare Coalition, Park County Public Health, the Wyoming Department of Health, and Homeland Security.”
“Cody Regional Health leadership has come together to discuss how various departments throughout our system can assist with the increased volumes and staffing needs. We want people to know they can come to us for help, but we also need help from our communities. Please social distance, wear a mask and stay home if you are experiencing COVID symptoms,” states Keith Ungrund, Chief Clinical Officer at CRH.
CRH elective surgeries are at risk of being canceled depending on resources (e.g., staffing availability, bed capacity, and supply chains). Therefore, only emergent surgeries will be considered moving forward if COVID cases continue to increase.
Furthermore, reduced visitation hours are currently in place at the hospital. Visitors are limited to one per patient between 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. for NON-COVID patients at this time.
All of these measures may change as COVID numbers in the Cody community change. But, unfortunately, a positive change doesn’t appear to be happening anytime soon.
On Sept. 8, there were 185 active cases of COVID-19 in Park County and 17 hospitalizations, most at Cody Regional Health.
On average, 25 new cases of COVID-19 are confirmed every day in Park County. This number is just as high as the one recorded during the peak of the last surge in December 2020 – and there are no signs of slowing down.
The Wyoming Department of Health currently classifies Park County as a Red Zone. This means the entire county has high transmission rates of COVID-19. This week, 17 of Wyoming’s 23 counties are also classified as Red Zones.
The situation isn’t any better over the border. Yesterday, the Billings Clinic announced it has 100 COVID-19 hospitalizations. Of those 89 patients, 33 are in the I.C.U., and 23 are on ventilators.
This deluge of COVID cases in Billings is directly impacting the health and recovery of Cody patients. Unfortunately, at this point, patients needing critical care in other hospitals and states aren’t getting it.
“Montana and surrounding state hospitals have been unable to accept transfers requiring critical care as they are at or over their capacity,” said the CRH statement. “This is the main reason CRH has implemented ICS.”
Cody Regional Health is making its struggles public. Several statements have been made to the community, asking them to act responsibly to stop the spread of COVID-19. Misinformation and low vaccination are the biggest obstacles in the hospital’s way.