From CEO Paul Beaupre, MD:
On behalf of all of our staff, I want to thank the many people in our community who are getting vaccinated and the many, many people who tell us that they are prepared to be vaccinated as soon as they are eligible. While it’s frustrating — and unacceptable — that we don’t have enough vaccine to immunize our community faster, we are incredibly encouraged that Teton County residents have expressed high interest in being vaccinated. Each time one of us receives the vaccine, Teton County becomes a safer place for all of us.
Hospital update: I hope you saw that the Teton County Health Department this week created a new category, Purple, to describe the heightened Covid risk in the community. This designation is primarily based on the record number of new and active Covid cases in the past few weeks, numbers that have made it challenging to do the contact tracing that prevents additional infections. At the hospital, we have seen the number of PCU and ICU patients with Covid creep up too, as we expect to see when the penetration of Covid in the community is very high. While we are all weary of hearing the precautions repeated — wash hands, wear masks and wear them properly, socially distance — I implore you to take these words seriously. We are an incredible hospital, but we are small; it won’t take many more hospitalized Covid patients to impact our ability to take care of the needs of the community. This morning we had 10 Covid patients in the hospital, and we are also caring for four residents in our Living Center quarantine unit. Staffing status continues to move back and forth from critical to more manageable, but it’s always concerning. I cannot thank our staff enough for their commitment and flexibility. It is not an easy time to be a healthcare provider, even for the most dedicated individuals.
Vaccine update: Now that healthcare workers have all been offered vaccines, St. John’s has begun to assist the Teton County Health Department with community vaccinations. It was a joyful scene in our new vaccination clinic this week as our staff met with residents age 80 and older to administer vaccines. As the eligibility categories open up, following direction from public health officials, we look forward to continuing to help immunize the greater community. Regardless of whether you receive your vaccine at the St. John’s clinic or the health department clinic, you will be asked to sign up through the Health Department online registration, available at https://www.tetoncountywy.gov/2251/COVID-19-Vaccine-Information. Currently, people age 75 and older are able to sign up.
I have been exceptionally impressed with the efforts of St. John’s and public health staff to ensure that we are ready and prepared to administer all vaccine supplies we receive immediately to our community. Our pharmacy and supply chain teams continue to work around the clock to ensure that we have the supplies, safety protocols, and processes in place. One of the downstream impacts we are seeing elsewhere in the process of vaccinating millions of people across the US is a shortage of certain types of syringes and needles that allow for intramuscular vaccination administrations. Other hospitals that don’t have the appropriate supplies have not been able to extract the extra doses from the multi-dose Pfizer and Moderna vials. The entire community has benefited from this preparation at St. John’s. We have not been impaired so far in our ability to administer as much vaccine as we can, as quickly as we can.
I will be leaving my post as St. John’s Health CEO on February 1, but you have my commitment that I will continue to advocate in every way possible for more vaccine for the residents of Teton County, WY until we can see an end to the pandemic and current obstacles to securing enough vaccine to keep our community safe from this deadly disease.