Most Delaware hospitals implement emergency rules


Citing the “unprecedented strain” from the latest COVID surge, a majority of Delaware hospitals are implementing emergency rules to cope with the surge of COVID-19 patients.

ChristianaCare, Bayhealth, TidalHealth Nanticoke and Saint Francis announced in a joint statement on Monday that they will all be implementing the rules, called Crisis Standards of Care.

This will allow the hospitals to redeploy clinical and non-clinical staff, adjust staffing ratios and change how treatment resources are distributed, according to a news release.

ChristianaCare, the largest health system in Delaware, was the first hospital to make this announcement. 

The rules are only implemented during emergencies. Hospitals across the country have made similar decisions due to the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations. 

“The current demand for care surpasses the normal resources that we have available,” hospital officials said in a statement. “Each of our organizations is taking steps to ensure that we are able to prioritize care for those with the greatest needs.”

Delaware’s health systems, officials said, are “stretched beyond capacity.” Hospitals are also asking residents to only go to hospitals’ emergency rooms for only serious health issues. 

Gov. John Carney announced on Monday that he will require Delawareans to wear a mask when inside most public places. He also deployed 70 Delaware National Guardsmen to assist hospitals with “non-clinical operations.”

The governor previously deployed about 110 members to train as certified nursing assistants, with the hopes they will help hospitals and long-term care facilities. 

“I know we’re all exhausted by this pandemic,” Carney said in a statement. “But at the level of hospitalizations we’re seeing, Delawareans who need emergency care might not be able to get it. That’s just a fact. It’s time for everyone to pitch in and do what works.”

According to state data, the pandemic is having its worse impact yet in Delaware. The number of hospitalizations breaks records every day, up to 784 people as of Sunday.

The weekly rate of new cases jumped has jumped by 50%. More than one in four COVID-19 tests are positive. 

The ChristianaCare release defined the emergency rules as a “framework in which health care providers can modify processes or change the way resources are allocated in order to care for patients with the highest need in conditions when it is no longer possible to deliver care according to normal standards.”

This move also comes as health systems in Delaware continue to face a staffing crisis, particularly among nurses. Health care workers are leaving hospitals because of burnout or better financial opportunities.

In recent weeks, state officials have attributed staffing issues to workers being exposed to COVID-19. 

ChristianaCare officials said the health system has often experienced capacity over 100% and about 40% of its patients have COVID-19. A majority of these patients, officials said, require a higher level of care.

“The health care system is under…

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