Crisis standards: we’re not quite there
-by Sharon Niederman
RATON — In the Nov. 19, 2021 meeting of Miners Colfax Medical Center’s board of trustees, Dr. Donald Belknap reported that with four out of five ER patients coming in with COVID infections, “This year is much worse than last” for the pandemic. “We are inundated,” he said. Respiratory illness called RSV in children is also rampant.
Last week, the New York Times reported New Mexico is second highest in the nation for per capita COVID cases.
Chief medical officer Dr. Loretta Conder said that while MCMC has not resorted to prescribed crisis standards of care, though six other NM hospitals, including Presbyterian and University of New Mexico Hospital, have. “We’ve been on the edge.” Going from contingency to activating crisis standards of care would mean putting in place “a triage system prioritizing which ones have the best chance,” said MCMC CEO Bo Beames.
Dr. Conder explained that in going to a crisis level, giving care would be evaluated according to a patient’s “underlying conditions, years of life, and years of expected life. We’ll have an ethics committee,” she said.
“It is not ethical to make decisions on the basis of vaccine status or other standards,” she said.
Dr. Conder also said that “90% of pneumonia cases coming into the hospital and 100% of deaths are among the unvaccinated.”
As a consequence of the high number of COVID patients and lack of staffing, MCMC has closed its OB service department, although the OB clinic remains open, Beames said.
He also reported that 95% of the staff were vaccinated or being tested, and providing proof of their status.
PA Mark Bayless, who recently received recognition on the statewide level for his thirty years of service, was recognized with a plaque by the board for his compassionate and caring commitment. Dr. Conder offered appreciation for his medical skills, saying she would not hesitate to put either herself or her family in his care.
Linda Hogg was named the new ER manager, appointed by Beames as the MCMC trauma nurse coordinator. MCMC is a level 4 trauma center, primarily assessing and stabilizing trauma patients then transferring them to a level 3 facility for specialized care.
Terri Green, MCMC compliance officer spoke on actions to be taken to deal with patient complaints and grievances that can lead to lawsuits.
MCMC is giving vaccine booster shots.