TAOS – Citing a significant increase in new cases of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, supply shortages and a lack of staff, Holy Cross Medical Center announced Friday that the hospital has activated crisis care standards.
The classification has been used throughout the pandemic to describe a significant change in the operations of a medical facility when the volume of patients seeking care greatly exceeds the number of beds and other resources available to treat them.
As long as crisis standards are in place, a hospital is able to determine which patients it treats locally and which ones it can refer for treatment at other facilities. This is the first time Holy Cross has activated crisis standards during the pandemic.
The announcement follows a Thursday report in USA today describing the experience of a 65-year-old man from New Mexico who was transferred from another hospital to Holy Cross, where he said he had received an EKG, but was later told no bed was available – at the local hospital or anywhere in the state.
The hospital has already faced bed shortages. In October, Ken Early was visiting Taos with his family when he had a heart attack at a grocery store. His daughter, Elizabeth Kolliopoulos, said the Taos News her father was rushed to Holy Cross, where he was told there were no beds available. She said her father died as the hospital unsuccessfully searched for an intensive care unit bed for him at a nearby hospital.
Holy Cross CEO Bill Patten wrote in an email Friday that the hospital’s intensive care unit was full at midnight Thursday, with six patients. He said the facility was treating seven patients with COVID-19, “which is the lowest for a few weeks, at least.”
A version of this story first appeared in Taos Newsa sister publication of Santa Fe’s New Mexican.