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4/10/20 CEO Update: COVID-19

4/10/20 CEO Update: COVID-19

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.


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Media contact:

Karen Connelly, Chief Communications Officer,, 307.739.7380