COVID-19 related Hospitalizations in Idaho and Wyoming are on the rise, stressing resources. Photo: Frederic Köberl

IDAHO — 14 Hospitals in Idaho released a joint statement this morning, Sept. 8, asking for community support as hospital capacities reach critical levels due to COVID-19 admissions.

“Hospitals throughout the region are currently experiencing COVID-19 hospitalization rates exceeding those of the peak surge in December 2020. While our facilities remain open and are capable of caring for patients in need, the current COVID-19 crisis puts a significant strain on hospital resources, including staff and bed availability,” the statement said.

St. John’s Health relies on Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center (EIRMC), transferring critically injured or ill patients as well as COVID-19 patients for further care. EIRMC is the largest hospital in the region with a level II trauma center and 318 hospital beds.

“EIRMC is operating at capacity and continues to treat patients from our region who need a higher level of care,” Coleen Niemann, director of marketing and community relations at EIRMC said via email.

According to the joint statement, four of the largest hospitals in the region, EIRMC, Portneuf Medical Center, Idaho Falls Community Hospital and Madison Memorial Hospital collectively admitted a total of 74 inpatients with COVID-19 in July. In August 157 COVID-19 patients were admitted, representing a 112% increase.

“Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 illness are overwhelmingly unvaccinated,” the statement said, “We are also seeing younger and generally healthier people needing hospital care after contracting the virus.”

“As of this date, nearly 740,000 Idahoans are fully vaccinated. This leaves roughly 60% of Gem State residents unprotected,” the statement said.

The joint statement urged Idahoans to get the COVID-19 vaccine. “Do your part to make sure we can protect our precious hospital resources and care for those who need us most.”

In Wyoming, a similar situation is unfolding.

According to an article published on Sept. 2 by the Casper Star-Tribune,  nearly 30% of patients at Wyoming Medical Center, Wyoming’s largest hospital, are being treated for COVID-19. The majority of them are under 65 years old.

“This kind of serious problem in the county has far-reaching effects,” Dr. Mark Dowell, county health officer and the hospital’s infectious disease expert, told Casper Star-Tribune. “It’s going to eat up resources, it’s going to burn out health care professionals emotionally and physically, and I am sure we will be getting to the point where we have to turn away transfer requests because we don’t have the room.”

As of Sept. 7, 230 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in Wyoming. Hospitalizations peaked at 247 patients on Nov. 30, 2020.

Photo: WDH

At St. John’s, there are currently two COVID-19 patients in the ICU and eight COVID-19 patients in the PCU. 71% of total hospital beds are occupied and 67% of ICU beds are occupied.

“On a daily basis, St. John’s continues to monitor and plan resources, which is — at this point— enabling us to meet patient demand at current volumes. We are concerned about the challenges that hospitals in parts of Idaho are experiencing in accommodating patient demand. So far, our regular tertiary care partners have continued to be able to receive our patients who require transfer, on a case-by-case basis,” David Robertson, St. John’s Health interim CEO said via email.
This article has been updated to include a statement from St. John’s Health Interim CEO David Robertson. 
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Buckrail @ Lindsay

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.