Crisis standards of care for staffing activated in response to Colorado COVID-19 hospitalizations

By: - November 9, 2021 5:25 pm

Clinicians depart a patient room after re-positioning a COVID-19 patient into the supine position in the Intensive Care Unit at Lake Charles Memorial Hospital on Aug. 10, 2021. in Lake Charles, Louisiana. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Colorado reactivated crisis standards of care for staffing throughout the state on Tuesday afternoon in response to rising COVID-19 hospitalizations and shrinking hospital capacity. 

Those standards of care mean that hospitals can be more flexible with how they allocate and assign worker responsibility in the face of staffing shortages and increased workload. Hospitals can bring in staff to help out in departments where they don’t usually work and can also provide fast-track training to less experienced workers.

“Activating staffing crisis standards of care allows health care systems to maximize the care they can provide in their communities with the staff they have available,” Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Eric France said in a statement.


He emphasized that hospitals are still open, and people should still seek necessary care if they are sick. 

The crisis standards of care for staffing also lets hospitals minimize administrative duties such as meetings, reduce paperwork requirements for health care workers and adjust staffing schedules to minimize fatigue. 

CDPHE’s activation of these standards doesn’t mean that every hospital in the state will enact them. Hospitals with more capacity limitations could be more likely to use the crisis standards of care, according to CDPHE. 

The action is part of a recent wave of action to address a surge in COVID-19 cases that eased patient transfer procedures and brought in help from FEMA.

As of Tuesday evening, there were over 1,400 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the state, with 79% being unvaccinated, according to CDPHE data. Ninety-three percent of the state’s ICU beds are in use. 

It is the second-largest wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic, approaching the numbers seen last December. 


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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.