By Karen Morfitt

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado’s Combined Hospital Transfer Center was activated in August, at the first sign of hospital capacity going up. It is currently at the lowest level, but an executive order from the governor lays the groundwork for hospitals to move into the next level of response.

It would give the state and hospitals the authority to move patients.

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“We are full we are at capacity,” Dr. Connie Price, Chief Medical Officer at Denver Health, said. She believes they are likely not alone. “I suspect my colleagues at other intuitions are experiencing the same things.”

Across the state the number of available beds is under 10%, one reason behind the executive order giving hospitals the authority to stop admitting new patients and instead directing them somewhere else.

“We would have none of these hospital capacity issues, or orders would be operative if everyone was vaccinated. We would have 100, 200, 300 people in our hospitals instead of 1,200,” Gov. Jared Polis said.

Cara Welch with the Colorado Hospital Association says the patient transfer process is a three-tier system.

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Tier one sets up a partnership between a small and large hospital you could be transferred within that system. Tier two and on call hospital system takes over transfers in one region. You could go anywhere in that region.

In tier three, a hospital system looks at available beds everywhere, which means you could go anywhere in the state.

“Typically, patient preference is part of that transfer decision. A patient could say no I don’t want to go to the next town over I need to stay here or i want to go to a different hospital this really takes patient preference out of the equation,” Welch said.

Welch says Coloradans should never delay medical attention, but need to consider the level of care they need, timing, and where they can get services.

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The order wouldn’t change federal requirements for hospitals to treat patients in emergency medical situations and orders hospitals and other health care facilities should not consider a patient’s insurance when making transfer decisions.

Karen Morfitt