A reminder from DHW Director Dave Jeppesen: Thank a healthcare worker today

Last Tuesday at our weekly press briefing, we were fortunate to have Dr. Jim Souza, chief physician executive at St. Luke’s Health System, as our guest. One of the reporters asked him what we can do as citizens of Idaho to help our hospitals and our communities. His answer resonated with me, and I hope you feel the same.

He reminded us that the healthcare workers are under extreme stress, and we should thank them with our actions. We should all get vaccinated. We should all wear a mask. And, we should all “be brave … be the one setting the example” for others. I would encourage all of us to think about the crushing weight that this pandemic has on our healthcare workers. They are watching their patients struggle to breathe, and even die, often more than once a day. If it is hard to hear this, imagine how hard it is to watch.

We owe them our gratitude, and we have a responsibility to them and our communities to do what we can to remain safe and keep others safe from COVID-19.

If you weren’t able to listen to the media briefing:

The numbers are still going in the wrong direction. As of Sept. 18, the number of COVID-19 patients in the ICUs and using ventilators across the state is the highest it has ever been. There are nearly twice as many patients needing ventilators (112) when compared to the previous peak of the pandemic.

Despite contingency actions taken by hospitals and the support provided by the state, Crisis Standards of Care (CSC) went into effect statewide on Sept. 16 and remain in effect. The surge of patients needing hospitalization continues to exceed the healthcare resources available.

Last week, my own family experienced what CSC means firsthand. My mother had a stroke last Thursday morning, just a few hours after CSC went into effect. Things were very different when we got to the ER. For one thing, some patients received care in the waiting room. Also, because my mother had fallen, there was concern she had broken some bones. X-rays were taken in a non-traditional X-ray area, with a longer wait than usual. Fortunately, she did not break any bones and did not need to be admitted, although I’ve been told that she would have been admitted for observation if CSC had not been in effect. They didn’t have a bed for her.

The ER team at St. Luke’s was amazing, and despite the stress they are under were caring, empathetic, and positive. I am greatly appreciative of the care they provided to my mom.

False and misleading information running rampant

I would encourage all of you to be a part of the solution. Do not share false or misleading information online. It’s not helpful, and it could actually harm someone. Follow trusted sources and encourage others to do the same. It takes more and more of us doing the right thing to get through this pandemic.

Clearing up rumors about Do Not Resuscitate orders in Idaho

The activation and implementation of CSC does not mean hospitals will automatically apply DNR orders.

The guidance for universal DNR is a strategy for hospitals to consider when operating under crisis standards of care and the demand for ventilators is more than the number of ventilators available.

Universal DNR, if enacted by a hospital, would apply to all hospitalized adult patients in the event of a cardiac arrest; it would not apply to pediatric patients. This guidance can be considered when resources are extremely scarce or unavailable as a way to save the most lives for patients with the best prognosis for survival, since the likelihood of survival after a cardiac arrest is low for adult patients.

I also want to encourage you to please seek medical care if you need it. The hospitals will do their best to provide the care you need.

UPDATE ON PFIZER SINGLE BOOSTER DOSE

DHW supports the authorization of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to administer booster doses of the Pfizer/BioNtech COVID-19 vaccine to certain people. Booster doses are available now for those individuals.

Those eligible for a single booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine are those who received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine at least six months earlier and who falls into one of these categories:

  • People ages 65 years and older
  • Residents of long-term care facilities
  • People ages 50-64 with underlying medical conditions
  • People ages 18-49 with underlying medical conditions, based on individual benefit and risk
  • People ages 18-64 at an increased risk of exposure and transmission due to the type of work they do (including teachers and healthcare workers) or because they live or work in an institutional setting

You can read the entire news release on the DHW website.

Thank you for choosing to get vaccinated. Have a safe and healthy weekend.

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