Billings Clinic officials announced Wednesday that due to a surge in COVID cases and the strain put on resources, the implementation of what’s known as Crisis Care Standards may be coming soon.
In a news release, the hospital says that although the standards have not yet been implemented, the measures could come this week if COVID volumes don’t slow down.
Billings Clinic officials said the presence of Crisis Care Standards occurs when it is no longer possible to deliver the normal standard of care to all persons in need.
That occurs when health care resources are overwhelmed by a disaster or emergency, according to officials.
The new standards mean that medical care might shift from focusing on an individual patient to instead managing the available resources to deliver the best results and best outcomes for the community as a whole.
Billings Clinic said the decision might involve how to save the most lives by allocating or reallocating resources like ventilators or spaces in the ICU, among other things.
“While the current increase in numbers is moving us closer to having to implement these standards, Billings Clinic is constantly and diligently working to avoid having to do so,” said Scott Ellner Billings Clinic CEO.
Billings Clinic is already using contingency standards, which are different from normal processes, but able to achieve sufficiency of care, and is moving toward Crisis Standards of Care.
“The numbers across our region are overwhelming health care facilities and staff. We are doing everything we can to take care of everyone who needs us, and we will continue to find ways to do that,” said Ellner.
Billings Clinic plans to stay in crisis care only for as long as needed.
In addition, Billings Clinic is expanding its COVID-19 testing, opening additional overflow space for more patients, dedicating additional units to care only for COVID-19-positive patients, and creating additional temporary triage space in or near the ER.
On Wednesday, Billings Clinic staff welcomed 10 National Guard soldiers to help in the business and influx of cases and the strain it is placing on the facility.
The news release said they hope not to have to implement these Crisis Standard of Care measures, it is "critically important that health care organizations are ready to do so if the need arises."