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7/24/20 CEO Update: COVID-19

7/24/20 CEO Update: COVID-19

As Jackson Hole has become busier this summer with visitors, residents, and their families, St. John’s Health has become much busier as well. We are taking care of many people with a wide range of minor and major illnesses and injuries, and fortunately we are also beginning to see more patients coming in for the routine preventative appointments that are so critical to maintaining your health. Though I am proud that our team is currently able to meet the need for this kind of medical care, the record number of 99 new COVID cases in Teton County over the last two weeks raises some serious concerns.

Alarming statistics: After talking to public health officials about the new cases, I am convinced that a shift in our own behaviors can reverse this unsustainable trend. I know that many of us long for summertime socialization and activities. However, in order to avoid new restrictions and governmental orders, to keep our businesses open, and to help our children and teachers return to school this fall, we must see a change in direction soon. You can help by keeping your social circle small and avoiding parties and gatherings. Our own residents, not tourists, are driving much of the current COVID surge by participating in these types of social events. We are working to educate young people and their employers about this problem.

Hospitalizations: We are again very busy taking care of COVID patients who require hospitalization. This month, the seven COVID patients we have admitted ranged in age from 32 to 79. We have created isolation areas to take care of COVID patients without spreading the disease to staff and other patients. We currently have occupancy to care for additional patients, but we are beginning to look at expanded surge capacity should it become necessary. Fortunately, our region’s larger care centers tell us they continue to have capacity to help, if someone is ill enough to require transfer.

Hotline and Telehealth: On Saturday, we had 258 calls to the hotline, the highest volume we’ve experienced since the line was created in March. Our call-line nurses answer questions and arrange a telehealth visit with a provider if a COVID evaluation is necessary. In recent days, we have been doing 50-80 telehealth visits each day.

Testing: Testing is a major concern to me, and to many of you. We have limited availability of the type of test that can done on-site; this is the type of test that gives us the quickest results. We need to reserve these tests for the most vulnerable people and make sure that we are keeping our staff and patients safe at the hospital. Unfortunately, this means that many people who are tested will have their tests sent out to reference labs and will need to wait up to seven days for test results. While this is frustrating, I want to remind people that self-isolation (for people with COVID symptoms) and quarantine (for people that have had an exposure to a person with COVID) requirements do not change regardless of your test result. Anyone with COVID symptoms needs to self isolate until 10 days after symptom onset and after fever/symptoms have been gone for at least 24 hours. Anyone who has had a significant exposure to someone with COVID-19 should quarantine for 14 days, the incubation period to develop symptoms. If you have had a significant contact in Teton County, you will be phoned by contact tracers from the Teton County Health Department. The contact tracing program has been very successful in identifying and quarantining people who have been exposed to someone with COVID-19. This program is the key to reducing spread and seeing our new cases decline.

Due to the shortage of testing supplies, there are eligibility criteria for testing. We understand that some people may want to be tested who do not meet the criteria. With public health officials, we continue to explore ways to expand access to tests. If you want to help in this endeavor, please contact our state and federal elected officials to tell them that we need their assistance for more testing in Teton County.

Lastly, on behalf of St. John’s healthcare workers, thank you for wearing your mask. I understand that on a national level this issue has been politicized. However, there is encouraging news from around the west: communities where residents have been vigilant about wearing face coverings have been able to halt surges like the one we are experiencing.

Paul Beaupré, MD, CEO

St. John’s Health


Media contact:

Karen Connelly, Chief Communications Officer,, 307.739.7380