St. John’s Health CEO COVID-19 update for December 11, 2020

From CEO Paul Beaupre, MD:

Hospital Update: Within the past two weeks, we experienced a dramatic uptick in hospitalizations for COVID patients and the number of hospital staff unable to work due to COVID-related sickness or quarantine. These numbers set a new record for St. John’s; in addition, we were concerned that the COVID outbreak in a senior living facility in a neighboring county could result in a large number of patients requiring hospital care here. We remain cognizant that other hospitals in Wyoming, as well as the hospitals we utilize for transfers in Idaho and Utah, are reaching capacity. Thankfully, helped by your efforts, the local situation has improved to some degree in recent days. We currently have available beds at St. John’s to accommodate the needs of COVID patients and those who depend on us for many other vital services.

Vaccine: St. John’s Health has been informed by the Wyoming Department of Health/Teton County Health Department that we may be administering Pfizer coronavirus vaccines to Teton County health care workers as soon as next week. Though the timing of delivery and quantity aren’t yet confirmed, we are working closely with public health officials to ensure that we have good processes in place and are fully prepared to begin assisting with this important effort as soon as the vaccine is available. To that end, we are identifying the necessary space and staff and are working with local agencies to make plans to schedule health care workers. While it is not mandatory, we are encouraging health care workers to get this vaccine in order to keep our health care delivery system and the larger Teton County community safe. Public health officials will be helping to keep the community informed about vaccination priorities and schedules as this information becomes available.

Business and Visitor Testing: The wellness of our community is closely connected to the health of our local business economy. With support from the State of Wyoming and the Teton County Health Department, there is a program to test local employees and keep businesses and their staff and customers safe. Recently, the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce worked with state officials to add testing for winter visitors who need to meet certain testing requirements in order to return home. Many of you may have friends or family who are planning a visit to Teton County this winter and may have questions about testing. Please share this information: Until December 31, travelers to Jackson Hole can pre-order and receive a FREE Vault test, if they arrange for it to be shipped to a Jackson, WY lodging/rental address. We are hopeful that the opportunity will be extended into 2021. Anyone who is feeling ill with flu-like symptoms should call the St. John’s Health hotline (307.739.4898, option 3) to be evaluated via a telehealth visit, which will include directions for testing, as necessary.

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Looking Ahead and Taking Care: As we approach the end of 2020, I believe that few of us could have imagined the challenges we would encounter this year. I hope that you find ways to connect with your loved ones during the holiday season. As we move into the New Year and toward improvement in the pandemic situation in 2021, I encourage you to be kind to yourself and take advantage of a local collaboration that has made mental wellness resources available to help. For more information, visit Mental Health JH.

Thank you for continuing to remain vigilant with your precautions. I stand behind our local health officials, who have put out a thoughtful but stern message: If we can make safe decisions now and stabilize our situation, we will have a much better chance to have a safe and beneficial experience this winter season. I remain hopeful for that for all of us.

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