St. John’s Health CEO gives the latest COVID-19 update

From CEO Paul Beaupre, MD:

It’s a mixed bag of news in the local covid update this week, but the good news is SO positive that I am going to start there.

Hospital: First, the average number of daily hospitalizations for covid patients at St. John’s Health this week reached its lowest point since October. On behalf of the staff, we welcome this break and appreciate all you are doing to keep our numbers down. Taking care of covid patients puts added pressure on our healthcare workers, supplies, and facilities. It is very intensive work for staff to manage PPE and safety precautions, supply chain issues, and separate covid units. The staff and physicians have done a remarkable job keeping the hospital safe and open for patients and all of us. Despite their accomplishments, lower covid patient numbers give our health professionals a greatly needed respite and should make you even more comfortable scheduling the care you need.

Vaccines: The national news about the efficacy of the vaccines – those currently available and those expected to be available soon – is incredibly positive. I encourage you to stay focused on the current overarching goals. We need to develop enough immunity in society so that this pandemic becomes another “flu-like” illness that we can manage. In addition, we need to decrease the incidence of death as well as severe disease, which can rupture the health system. Keeping these goals in mind, the studies are showing that the vaccines are overwhelmingly effective. The key is that everyone needs to get the vaccine, regardless of the differences in efficacy among vaccine manufacturers and types. What will help us re-open our communities and keep our residents healthy, without overburdening the health system, is for the great majority of us to have immunity. For the foreseeable future, everyone should focus on the proper use of face coverings, social distancing, small groups, and handwashing. In the interest of your individual health and the health of the community, I urge you to get a vaccine when it becomes available to you.

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This brings me to my next point, which is somewhat less positive…

The vaccine supply is not able to match the need at this time. This is frustrating, and certainly frustrating to many of you who are uncertain when you will be able to register. Thank you to all of you who have been advocating with elected officials to get more vaccines for Wyoming and Teton County. Your efforts are helping. We learned this week that our February allotment has been increased significantly. Know that Teton County is ready to quickly administer all doses we receive. For more information about eligibility and registration for the vaccine, visit https://www.tetoncountywy.gov/2251/COVID-19-Vaccine-Information.

And lastly, I need to remind you that the incidence of covid in our community is currently higher than any other place in Wyoming or any Mountain West ski area. We remain in a vulnerable position. There continue to be covid-related deaths in our county. Please don’t let up on your efforts to keep this disease contained. We are in this for a while longer, together. Thanks again for all you are doing.

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