First, I need to thank the community and our agency partners for all of
your support of St. John’s. This week, The Washington Post shared
a growing national perspective that attributes many COVID-19 rural hospital
challenges to recent mergers and acquisitions that have concentrated the
U.S. healthcare system in wealthy cities and suburbs. This has left many
small rural hospitals in trouble. I am proud to be part of an independent
and community-owned hospital in Jackson Hole, where we all work together
to make sure resources are not allocated based on profits, but on where
they will best serve the people who live here. I am confident that, with
your ongoing support, St. John’s will be here to serve you long
into the future.
- What's new this week:
ICU: In our planning, we recognized that there would come a time when COVID-19
would require us to expand our Intensive Care Unit (ICU). This week we
implemented this plan after a surge in COVID-related patients. We are
now operating two ICU areas to help prevent contagion among our healthcare
workers and patients. We are operating an Isolation ICU for COVID-related
patients, and have put up a second ICU in another wing of the hospital
to take care of our other critical care patients. Please bear with us
as we continue to enforce visitor restrictions. We know it can be very
difficult when you can’t see your loved one in the hospital.
Diagnostic Testing: Widespread diagnostic testing for COVID-19 continues to be a primary goal.
Knowing who has COVID-19 would help us provide the best care for patients
and keep healthcare workers and our patients from contracting and spreading
the virus. Public health officials need this information to inform policy
recommendations they make and help disease from spreading in the community.
Our current recommendation is that anyone with symptoms or concerns should
contact their physician’s office or the COVID hotline (307.739.4898,
x3) to learn about their options. Because of inconsistent access at testing
laboratories to personal protective equipment, test swabs, test kits,
and chemical reagents to run the test, St. John’s needs to prioritize
ordering diagnostic tests to our patients that meet certain criteria.
We are actively pursuing avenues for approved COVID-19 testing on a daily
basis and look forward to being able to offer this to the community.
Antibody Testing: There are a lot of questions about antibody testing and when it could
be available in the community. I believe that antibody testing will ultimately
provide valuable information, including when it is safe for individuals
and businesses to resume normal activity. There are several important
considerations, and I caution the community not to leap too quickly to
testing platforms that will fail to meet our needs. I caution you that
this has happened in other towns. Researchers from around the world agree
that the tests being evaluated currently do not yet have reliable accuracy
to identify whether individuals who have developed antibodies have sufficient
immunity to the virus or for how long. I am encouraging the community
to establish an independent, qualified panel of people who do not have
financial ties to any of the commercially available platforms. This panel
should be charged with quickly evaluating and deciding which platform
would be best to use. Once that decision has been made, the community
can muster resources to obtain and implement this program. With this in
mind, I am postponing the testing of healthcare workers and emergency
first responders until the community platform has been selected.
Transparency: We have heard from many of you who would like more information about the
severity of disease being experienced in our patient population and the
impact that is being felt at St. John’s. In response to your feedback,
we are now reporting several new numbers, including the number of COVID-related
hospitalizations and COVID-related patient transfers to Idaho Falls and
Salt Lake City. View our
daily COVID-19 report. Although we saw an uptick in COVID-related hospitalizations this week,
we did not transport any patients to Idaho Falls or Salt Lake City. This
decision is made on a case-by-case basis, factoring in the patient’s
medical needs and available resources at St. John’s. We are fortunate
that the hospitals in Idaho Falls and Salt Lake City continue to tell
us they have current capacity to help if necessary.
Thank you, again, for continuing to stay at home, using masks when you
are away from home for essential activities, and for everything else you
are doing to keep the spirits of our healthcare workers high. The many
donated meals and gifts to the Foundation are greatly appreciated. It’s
an honor for me to be able to witness on a daily basis the willingness
of our physicians and staff to provide the care our patients need, in
spite of the risks they take to do so. In particular today, I want to
thank the families of healthcare workers for their understanding as we
commit so much of our energy and passion to keeping the community well.
Paul Beaupre, MD, CEO
St. John’s Health
For more information on Coronavirus from St. John's Health, visit our
dedicated COVID-19 webpage and subscribe below.
Karen Connelly, Chief Communications Officer,