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5/1/20 CEO Update: COVID-19

5/1/20 CEO Update: COVID-19

Today, we have one patient hospitalized with suspected COVID-19, and we had zero patient transfers to Idaho this week. We feel very fortunate that the St. John’s Health coronavirus numbers have stabilized and thankful that we have benefited from the time, opportunity, and resources to prepare for our new normal.

  • What's new this week:
  • Expanding available care: This was an important week for activating some of our plans to bring vital medical services back online for the community. I am very optimistic about how we are using PCR active disease testing to safely schedule asymptomatic patients for elective procedures in the OR. Over the past week, we were able to perform 40 elective surgeries on patients whom we tested the day before their procedure for the presence of coronavirus. These were important surgeries for orthopedic, gastrointestinal, gynecological, urological and general surgery medical problems. Because we knew in advance these patients did not have the virus, we were able to proceed with confidence that we were not inadvertently introducing COVID-19 to the staff and other patients. If we had identified an individual with COVID-19, we would have postponed the procedure and immediately directed the patient into the isolation and contact tracing program of the Teton County Health Department. By testing asymptomatic patients, some of whom could potentially be harboring the virus unknowingly, St. John’s can help reduce the spread of disease in the community. I have stated before, and will continue to say, that widespread testing is key to resuming a greater level of personal and business activity in Teton County. I am hopeful that St. John’s Health can continue to offer community guidance about best practices for testing as a way to keep Teton County as safe and active as possible.
  • Testing for healthcare workers: We continue to develop plans to perform antibody tests using the Abbott platform for healthcare workers and first responders. In addition, we are now exploring plans for random PCR active disease testing for asymptomatic hospital staff. We intend to work with scientists to add to the body of evidence about how this disease has affected high-risk groups such as healthcare workers.

    I want to reiterate my message about antibody testing for individuals, based on a message from the American Medical Association (AMA) this week: “The AMA does not recommend individuals pursue serology testing to make person decisions or to attempt to determine immunity to COVID-19.”

  • Community testing: The Public Health goal is to do more testing to identify positive COVID-19 cases, to isolate them, and identify and test their contacts. There is a new voucher system in place to provide active disease PCR tests for symptomatic individuals who are unable to pay for testing due to their insurance status. We expect to see more positive cases. Don’t panic about a single number, such as the number of positive cases in Teton County. We have experts monitoring an entire dashboard of indicators that will signal if there is a worrisome trend.
  • Call your doctor: We have taken great steps to ensure your safety when you visit us next for the care you need. Across the country there have been alarming stories of patients with heart attacks, strokes, and appendicitis who have tried to tough it out at home and risked their lives in the process. This is happening in Teton County too. Please do not do this. Call a physician if you have questions about your health, or there is an appointment, screening, or test that you have postponed. And do not hesitate to come immediately to the hospital if you suspect you are experiencing a medical emergency. I have been hearing from people who have visited our emergency department with more than the usual trepidation due to the pandemic. They were relieved and grateful to experience the high-quality, compassionate care for which St. John’s is known.
  • Thank you: Lastly, I want to thank Dr. Travis Riddell, Jodie Pond, and the entire public health and emergency management teams for their tireless efforts to protect the health and safety of Teton County.

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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Karen Connelly, Chief Communications Officer,, 307.739.7380