This week, our community leaders issued additional orders and recommendations to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. I really do believe that by staying at home (with exceptions for essential activities) our community is helping to flatten the curve and save lives in Teton County. With your help, St. John’s will be in the best possible position to respond to peak patient volumes projected to reach Wyoming in late April.
- The COVID-19 testing situation has seen some improvement this week. The Wyoming State Laboratory and the commercial labs are now getting results back to us quickly. This helps us provide the most appropriate patient care and utilize our PPE resources most effectively. This also hopefully alleviates patient anxiety and allows individuals who have tested negative to resume some of their essential activities and contact with their families. Though CDC guidelines still restrict who is eligible for testing, we are talking daily with labs and other partners in an effort to greatly expand testing beyond what is now available.
- Many of you have contacted us for more information about the incidence of COVID-19 at St. John’s and in Teton County. We publish a daily report by noon each day at www.stjohns.health/coronavirus. This report includes information such as the number of positive cases in Teton County, and today we added additional data, such as the number of daily hospitalizations. There is also an abundance of information to be found at a new website created with Teton County, Town of Jackson, and the Teton County Health Department. This site is www.jhcovid.com. It is where you will be able to find the informative new COVID dashboard created by Teton County Emergency Management.
- You may have read that St. John’s has invited community healthcare providers and emergency responders to participate in a blood serum study that will reveal whether an individual has developed antibodies. This pilot group was selected because it is the group considered to have the greatest exposure to this novel coronavirus. Because there is such a shortage of data upon which to make certain decisions, it will be interesting and probably very useful to have information about the extent to which our participants have developed an immunity. This study was made possible by the philanthropic generosity of local businessman Tom Katis.
- St. John’s has a large team of employees from across the organization laser-focused on COVID-19 preparedness. We are monitoring PPE and supplies daily and identifying new vendors for necessary items. We are innovating around preserving what we have and how we can use supplies more efficiently. Beyond supplies and breathing equipment, the other key resources are facilities and trained critical care staff. We are actively planning for alternate spaces that may be necessary for patient care in the event of a surge. In addition, we have identified an expanded corps of critical care staff who are receiving specialized training for this specific situation and the medical needs of COVID-19 patients.
- I am amazed and so grateful for how quickly our patients have responded to new ways of doing things in healthcare. Only a month ago, it was routine to walk right into the clinics to see your physicians. Now, for your safety and for the safety of healthcare workers and the larger community, patients are seeing their doctors via virtual “telehealth” visits. This is a secure, confidential way to talk to your provider about your health, and it is accepted by most insurance companies. We are now doing nearly 100 appointments daily. This type of visit isn’t only for COVID screenings. Just this week, for example, we began having some of our visits with our oncology patients via telehealth. Please don’t delay talking to your physician if you have medical questions. Your physician’s office may schedule a telehealth visit with you if appropriate. Yes, some electives procedures are being rescheduled for the time being, but we are still here to help.
We continue to be extremely grateful for your support. From the encouraging messages to employees written in chalk on our sidewalks to the hundreds of hand-sewn masks you are creating for our staff and community, your gestures of generosity and kindness are deeply appreciated.
Paul Beaupre, MD, CEO
St. John’s Health