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    Polis signs executive order allowing hospital transfers

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    The order comes as hospitals across the state struggle to treat an influx of patients caused by an increase in COVID-19 cases.

    DENVER — Gov. Jared Polis has signed an executive order allowing the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) to order hospitals and freestanding emergency departments to stop admitting or transfer patients as capacities are threatened amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The order applies to hospitals that have reached capacity or are anticipated to reach capacity and is intended to “ensure that Coloradans have adequate health care while protecting hospitals’ ability to serve people with COVID-19 and other conditions.”

    It’s up to CDPHE to decide whether a facility is at or anticipated to reach capacity, according to the order, and to authorize the hospital or emergency department to refuse patients or transfer them to a facility designated by CDPHE.

    The order prohibits hospitals from considering a patient’s insurance status or ability to pay when making transfer decisions.

    It comes as hospitals across the state struggle to treat an influx of patients caused by an increase in COVID-19 cases due to the highly contagious delta variant and people who have not been vaccinated.

    RELATED: Breaking down the guidance for booster shots for the COVID-19 vaccine.

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    According to CDPHE’s data dashboard, there were 1,184 COVID-19 patients in Colorado hospitals as of Friday. Of those, 78% were unvaccinated. The most recent data shows 90% of acute care hospital beds across the state are in use.

    The order is one of five possible actions outlined by the state Friday that it could take if hospital capacity is threatened. The others were to request FEMA medical surge teams, temporarily stop elective procedures, reactivate crisis standards of care and scale distribution of monoclonal treatment.

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