DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis signed two executive orders on Sunday, giving the state control of hospital admissions and transfers and laying the groundwork to authorize crisis standards of care as Colorado hospitals continue to get crushed by a wave of COVID-19 hospitalizations.
The order pertaining to hospital transfers authorizes the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to order hospitals to transfer or cease the admission of patients.
Under the order, hospitals must still stabilize the patient before transferring them to another facility and “shall not consider a patient’s insurance status or ability to pay when making transfer decisions,” the order reads.
Polis said last week there were more than 1,160 Coloradans hospitalized with COVID-19, which is among the highest levels throughout the pandemic and the highest since last December.
The second order signed Sunday clarifies that crisis standards of care can be activated and directs the Colorado Division of Insurance to do emergency rulemaking for prior authorization, which polis said will help address the staffing shortages in hospitals and will make it easier to activate various crisis standards of care if hospitalizations continue to grow in number.
These orders come at a time when intensive care unit beds in Colorado are quickly running out. On Oct. 21, it was reported there were only 120 ICU beds available across the state.
Polis also announced last week that Colorado will start distributing monoclonal antibody treatments at mobile sites in an effort to reduce the hospitalization rate but continued to stress the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines in preventing severe outcomes for people who contract the virus.
The governor said his administration met with Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 8 officials to discuss submitting a request for a federal medical surge team if it is needed.