DC hospitals ask for a declaration of emergency – NBC4 Washington

Hospitals in DC are asking the mayor to declare a health emergency as they are being stretched due to the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.

According to a letter from the DC Hospital Association (DCHA), the pressure on the district’s health care system is now greater than at any time since the start of the pandemic.

“We’re going through a tough time and the pressure we’re dealing with is almost a perfect storm,” said DCHA President and CEO Jacqueline Bowens. “The pressure we’re dealing with is a perfect storm.”

“So we actually infected larger numbers of our staff,” she said.

“Some hospitals have anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the staff who may be affected in different departments,” she said.

The hospitals are calling for not only the declaration of a state of emergency, but also the implementation of crisis standards for care, which would allow hospitals to lower the staff-to-patient ratio, continue to use out-of-state medical licenses and allow liability protections.

“I don’t think it’s about turning patients away,” Bowens said. “It’s about how we work with all aspects of our healthcare system to ensure we have opportunities to progress to different levels of healthcare.”

“We don’t envision services being denied,” she said.

Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration is considering whether or not to restore the state of emergency.

“We’re in talks about what kind of support we can provide the hospitals,” said Patrick Ashley, DC Department of Health senior deputy director. “We have not made any decisions at this time about adding any other liability protection or crisis care standards.”

DCHA is also calling for testing sites to be set up near hospitals to relieve pressure on the emergency room.

A health status was in effect in the district in 2020, including the adoption of crisis standards for care, but that portion of the emergency was withdrawn in April.


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