Howard County General Hospital Activates Crisis Standards of Care

Announced on January 4th:

Due to the recent surge of COVID-19 cases and related factors that stress our hospital resources and staff, Howard County General Hospital is activating Crisis Standards of Care guidelines, effective Jan. 4, 2022.

From mid-December to early January, Howard County General Hospital saw a 411% increase in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

This shift to crisis standards of care (CSC) allows Howard County General Hospital the flexibility to increase access to care for those who need it most and enables the hospital to care for as many patients as possible with available staffing. During conventional care, routine services are provided through standard operating procedures. During crisis care, the same quality of care is provided, but equipment, medications and staff may be used for different purposes or in a different manner than usual.

What Our Patients Need to Know

The quality of care you receive will not be impacted while Crisis Standards of Care are in place. While many of the crisis guidelines take place behind the scenes and are not visible to patients, we do appreciate your patience and understanding. Here are a few things to know:

  • We may have to reschedule existing patient appointments or arrange for patients to be discharged early when appropriate.
  • One way you can help is to visit our emergency department for emergencies only. Please do not seek routine COVID-19 testing in the emergency department unless you need urgent or emergent medical evaluation, as it diverts critical, lifesaving resources from people who are experiencing an emergency.
  • We provide COVID testing at Howard County General Hospital for patients who meet certain conditions. We strongly recommend you use alternate resources, such as home testing kits, pharmacies or a locally run testing facility when possible.

We are committed to providing the best care for all our patients. To meet the growing demand for the care and safety of patients with COVID-19, while continuing to care for patients with other medical needs, Johns Hopkins Health System hospitals have:

  • Opened additional treatment spaces for patients with COVID-19
  • Rescheduled elective surgical procedures
  • Redeployed staff to ensure that patients with COVID-19 and those dealing with other medical conditions are receiving safe, high-quality care

Additional changes under Crisis Standards of Care may include:

  • Different clinical care models
  • Modified elective surgical schedules
  • Simplified documentation in patient medical records
  • Redeployed clinical and nonclinical staff
  • Improved patient flow through measures such as early discharges, when safe and appropriate

The Johns Hopkins Health System will continue to closely monitor patient census and staffing levels at Howard County General Hospital on a daily basis and will reevaluate crisis level protocols accordingly.

About Crisis Standards of Care

Crisis Standards of Care guide the allocation of scarce patient care resources during an overwhelming public health emergency, when the demand for services dramatically exceeds the resources available. These guidelines were developed by the Institute of Medicine — now known as the National Academy of Medicine — at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services following Hurricane Katrina. This was done to provide a standard-of-care framework for disaster situations. Johns Hopkins Medicine has worked with the University of Maryland Medical System to standardize the process for activating Crisis Standards of Care.


Scott E

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