COLORADO SPRINGS — For the first time the "Colorado Hospital Association" is activating Tier 3 of the "Combined Hospital Transfer Center,"(CHTC) which is considered a serious move.
This means that all of the systems in the association will meet twice each day to talk about patient transfers. It means both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients can be transferred if a hospital doesn't have enough capacity.
Hospitals are allowed to do this without patient consent due to an executive order from Governor Jared Polis
“This is an extraordinary step taken by the state’s hospitals and health systems,” said Darlene Tad-y, MD, CHA vice president of clinical affairs. “Even when under immense pressure, the state’s health care system continues to work collaboratively with each other and our partners at the state to ensure the best care possible is available to every Coloradan that needs it. However, activating Tier 3 of the CHTC should send a clear message to Coloradans: our health care system is in jeopardy of being overwhelmed.
The move comes as several hospitals are under pressure due to rising COVID-19 hospitalizations and staffing issues. The problems hospitals face have led to postponing some medical care as a result.
"We'll try and keep patients within a region, but we are stretched to a point where we really do have to utilize every bed that's available," said Colorado Hospital Association Senior Director of Communications Cara Welch. "So if that means it's a few hours away to the hospital that has the available staff and space and resources, then that's where that patient may go."
When making the decision about when to transfer someone Welch tells News 5 they consider a multitude of factors. She says patients who are very sick and need a higher level of care would often be transferred to a larger health system. Tier 3 also means that they consider moving patients in larger health systems to smaller, rural ones. She said an example of this may be someone who needs to be in the hospital for a couple more days before they're ready to be discharged.
She said it is unlikely a patient that is considered "very ill" in the ICU at an existing hospital would be moved if they're getting the services they need at that hospital.
The CHTC was first created during the pandemic during COVID-19 surges. Previously, the CHTC was activated at Tier 1 back in August when cases were surging again, Tier 3 is considered the highest level. In earlier stages, the CHTC was limited to just transferring COVID-19 patients, but now they can transfer any patient.