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June 15, 2020

Update from St. John’s Health CEO, Dr. Paul Beaupré

Updates
I’m pleased to share some good news on a couple of fronts. First, we currently have no patients with COVID-19 in the hospital. We have also been able to stabilize our access to COVID-19 testing supplies and feel confident that, for now, we can continue to test all of our scheduled surgery patients prior to their procedures. Most other surgery centers have not incorporated testing into their patient safety programs, but we believe it’s an important way to help ensure COVID-19 isn’t transmitted at the hospital or within the community.

Many of our patient care units are getting busier, which is another positive trend. One area of concern is new local data that shows many people skipped their cancer screenings when we were closed for elective procedures. More than 400 women did not get scheduled this spring for their regular screening mammograms. As we know, early detection saves lives, and we will be reaching out to make sure that people are getting mammogramscolonoscopies, and other screenings they need.

We have continued to conduct our COVID-19 testing for frontline health care and first responder groups. The information that results may offer helps us understand more about the incidence of COVID-19 in our community. More than 200 employees have participated thus far in our random PCR active disease testing program, with zero disease detected. For the time being, we will continue this program and continue to randomly select up to 100 employees weekly to be tested.

We have completed the antibody testing pilot program, using the platform our expert panel selected. Of 442 front line and first responders tested, six people tested positive for antibodies. Three of these individuals were hospital employees, and three were associated with other community first responder groups. The prevalence of 1.4% is similar to other towns like ours that have had low incidence of disease to date. We are reminding our participants and the community that antibody status, due to the margin of error in even the most reliable tests, means that people cannot make safe behavior choices based on antibody test results. With the prevalence rate that we detected, we aren’t recommending a widespread rollout of antibody testing in Teton County at this time.

Though we aren’t currently seeing a spike in hospitalizations, it’s important that we all stay vigilant. Across many states, including Arizona and Utah, the prevalence of COVID-19 is experiencing a resurgence as the country becomes more mobile and restrictions are relaxed. On an individual basis, we can help prevent a surge in hospitalizations by maintaining physical distancing, wearing masks, and using good hand hygiene. Despite national guidance that seems to change constantly, I am certain that these smart steps make a huge difference. A special thank you to community businesses that are working with their guests to uphold community safety guidelines.

Lastly, I want to recognize that the events of the last few months have reminded us how connected we are with the larger world outside the borders of Teton County. I have been reflecting on how we are facing COVID-19 together based on an ability to listen, learn, and collaborate with each other. As we work with all of you to address other important and difficult issues, we remain committed to listening, learning, and taking action, in order to be the best health partner possible.


Paul Beaupré MD, CEO
St. John’s Health

 

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