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9/4/20 CEO Update: COVID-19

9/4/20 CEO Update: COVID-19

Summer is winding down and students are returning to their studies. Fall is in the air, and, believe it or not, we are headed into the next season of the COVID pandemic.

By the Numbers: Fortunately, the dashboard of COVID metrics that we monitor to assess the prevalence of disease in Teton County has remained stable. I am encouraged by the trend of the test positivity rate, the relatively low number of new daily positives and active cases, and the low number of hospitalizations. I can’t thank you all enough for the individual efforts you made — large and small — to help us navigate a busy summer season without experiencing a surge that would have closed key services at our hospital and clinics. Please don’t let your guard down. We still have some major challenges ahead before a vaccination is widely available.

Surveillance Testing: Two weeks ago, we partnered with the Teton County Health Department to begin offering COVID-19 surveillance testing for businesses, including nonprofits, retail, tour operators, restaurants, and others. To date, we have randomly tested approximately 500 individuals using a cheek swab test. This operation is being conducted at a new test site at the Teton County Fairgrounds. Staff that are selected will receive a link to sign up electronically for a time to get tested. The surveillance testing is being offered free to businesses and employees through funding from the CARES Act and is completely voluntary.

Surveillance testing is for people without symptoms. So far, we have been successful at identifying several people who were positive for COVID but asymptomatic or presymptomatic. Early detection helps us isolate people who test positive and contain the spread of disease. Individuals with symptoms should continue to call their provider or the St. John’s Health hotline for an evaluation.

Retention of Healthcare Workers: The past several months have been very stressful for people working in healthcare. Trying to balance outstanding patient care with the stresses of exposure to the virus, with childcare and education issues, with cancellation of travel plans with family and friends, with loss of loved ones, and with all of the challenges of this unprecedented time has taken a toll on the nation’s healthcare workforce. Our local healthcare heroes are not immune to these stresses. I am saddened when I learn of St. John’s employees and providers who need to make a decision to leave their positions due to these challenges. As the leader of the organization, I am concerned about retaining a well-trained, caring staff. I am working with our leadership and the Board of Trustees to make sure our employees and providers know how much they are valued and to develop plans to maintain our ability to recruit and retain the highest quality workforce to serve you.

I am reminded daily why I am so proud to be a part of this community. Thank you for your continued support.

Paul Beaupre, MD, CEO

St. John's Health