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Idaho hospitals reach critical point in COVID-19 care

In communities across Idaho, we have celebrated the impact of our brave, dedicated healthcare workers as they fight against COVID-19. This pandemic, now in its 18th month, continues to take a relentless toll on the region’s caregivers. They have worked tirelessly and devoted themselves to caring for patients; now they need your help.

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.

This increase has caused local ICU and inpatient hospital floors to reach capacity on a regular basis. Our hospitals have experienced a continual flow of patients. To manage resources, hospital leaders at each facility monitor staffing and bed availability continuously throughout the day. Additionally, we collectively assess resources across hospitals to help meet the needs of our region.

In late spring, hospitals in our region had single-digit COVID-19 admissions. We were hopeful that the pandemic was ending. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

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 illness in the month of July. That number soared to 157 in the month of August, representing a 112% increase.

Patients hospitalized with COVID-19 illness are overwhelmingly unvaccinated. Hospitals in our region are experiencing similar COVID-19 trends to those reported in other states and around the nation. We are also seeing younger and generally healthier people needing hospital care after contracting the virus. We strongly encourage people in our area to get the vaccine and follow the CDC’s recommendations for preventing the spread of the virus, including guidance around mask usage, social distancing and frequent hand washing.

The vaccine has been shown to be safe and effective, with 370 million doses administered across the U.S., as of September 1, 2021. As of this date, nearly 740,000 Idahoans are fully vaccinated. This leaves roughly 60% of Gem State residents unprotected.

The Food & Drug Administration has granted full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for individuals 16 years of age and older. The vaccine is also available for those as young as 12 under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines also remain in widespread use under EUA while seeking full approval.

The choices Idahoans make have a direct impact on whether hospitals have the human resources necessary to care for our community. We are imploring our community to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Protect yourself, protect our children, and protect the vulnerable members of our community unable to receive the vaccine. Do your part to make sure we can protect our precious hospital resources and care for those who need us most.

These hospitals in south and southeastern Idaho stand united in this joint statement.

  • Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center
  • Portneuf Medical Center
  • Madison Memorial Hospital
  • Idaho Falls Community Hospital
  • Mountain View Hospital
  • Bingham Memorial Hospital
  • Steele Memorial Medical Center
  • Teton Valley Hospital
  • Bear Lake Memorial Hospital
  • Minidoka Memorial Hospital
  • Franklin County Medical Center
  • Nell J. Redfield Memorial Hospital
  • Power County Hospital District
  • Intermountain Cassia Regional Hospital