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Hospital staffing becoming more of a problem amid COVID-19 surge

St. Luke’s callouts have gone up 20-fold in the last three weeks, according to the health system.
COVID-19 continues to take its toll on Idaho healthcare
Published: Jan. 17, 2022 at 6:34 PM MST
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Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — The St. Luke’s Health system is staying busy with all kinds of hospital visits. Around 40% of ICU visits are COVID-19 related.

And these trends, combined with a COVID-19 test positivity rate of nearly 40%, are why St. Luke’s Chief Physician Executive Dr. Jim Souza says we could see crisis standards of care activated again, a chance he calls “more probable than not.”

This time, one of the main issues is staffing, as sick callouts have gone up 20-fold over the last three weeks, according to Souza.

“We’re pulling providers right from ambulatory clinics into work as hospitalists,” said Souza. “We’ve got back up plans for other providers.”

Staffing concerns aren’t just about the health care industry. The Cassia County School District has only had one case of COVID-19 since school started back from winter break.

“Even with our low numbers, it’s been very challenging to make sure that we can get the people that we need to and fill in with subs,” said Debbie Critchfield with the Cassia County School District. “So if our numbers start to spike, I think that will initiate other conversations.”

Multiple schools in the Treasure Valley have seen recent closures, but Critchfield hopes the low numbers continue in Cassia County.

“I have to think that having our four-day week also contributes to us being able to stay in where we’ve got that day where we get everybody away from each other,” said Critchfield.

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