With the exact timing that we saw months ago, concerning employees being forced to take the vaccine, Primary Health, Saint Luke's, and Saint Alphonsus announced that they will be cutting back their services due to a rise in Covid rates within the state of Idaho. Their announcements followed Governor Little declaring that Idaho is on the brink of teetering because of the Delta variant's infection rates in the Gem State. 

All three health providers cite rising Covid rates and a worker shortage as reasons for the restrictions in providing medical services. Let's begin with a look at all three hospitals announcements.

Saint Alphonsus

Saint Alphonsus released a statement saying a surge in COVID-19 cases and increased hospitalizations, non-emergent surgeries, and procedures requiring overnight hospital stays at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise and Saint Alphonsus Medical Center in Nampa are being paused through September 18 and will be evaluated daily, the health system announced today. 

Urgent, emergent, and medically necessary, time-sensitive procedures and medical care are still being done at both hospitals, and outpatient surgical procedures are proceeding subject to capacity constraints. Scheduled surgeries and procedures at Saint Alphonsus Medical Centers in Ontario and Baker City, Oregon, will continue, subject to existing capacity. 

"The growing number of COVID-19 hospitalizations added to a record summer volume of trauma and medical emergencies, like heart attack, strokes, and cancer are creating stress on our health system capacity. In order to safely provide the best care possible, we are reallocating resources to COVID-19 care," said David McFadyen, President of Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center. "We anticipate this will be a temporary pause and we will continually monitor our capacity and staffing levels in order to restore full-service care as soon as possible."

"To preserve capacity in our hospitals, we are asking Idahoans to protect themselves and serve their neighbors by choosing to get vaccinated. All COVID-19 vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective and are readily available in our community," said Travis Leach, President of Saint Alphonsus Medical Center – Nampa.

Inpatient hospital census at both the Boise and Nampa hospitals exceeds 100% of total staffed beds. More than 20 percent of all patients in Boise and 35 percent in Nampa are COVID-positive cases. These are record volumes never seen during the entire 18-month pandemic. Saint Alphonsus Health System continues to enforce visitation restrictions and requires all persons entering our facilities to wear appropriate face coverings and maintain greater than the 6-foot distance at all times.  

As the region's most advanced trauma network, Saint Alphonsus will continue to perform urgent and emergent surgeries and procedures, including those that, if delayed, would have a significant risk of medical deterioration or may materially impact the patient's prognosis, morbidity, or treatment plan, as determined by the patient's surgeon.

Saint Luke's

Primary Health

Primary Health Medical Group yesterday saw a record number of urgent care patients, surpassing 2,000 visits at its 21 clinics across the Treasure Valley, with the majority of patients seeking evaluation and testing for COVID symptoms.

The surge is placing additional strain on an already exhausted and overworked healthcare force, and jeopardizes the public’s access to walk-in health care, a critical service Treasure Valley residents have come to rely upon over the past nearly 30 years.

“Every aspect of the care we offer is impacted by this fourth wave of COVID and the large numbers of sick patients we’re seeing,” explained David Peterman, M.D., CEO of Primary Health. “We’ll get 80,000 phone calls this month, and wait times during visits are much longer than usual. Starting today, we will be closing our doors an hour early, at 7 PM, to ensure we don’t check in more patients than we can see before the day is over. I’ve been in urgent care and primary care for 30 years, and it’s inconceivable to me we’re at a point where we can’t see all the patients who want to see us. Our healthcare workers are exhausted and working hard to see every patient and answer every call. But at some point, it’s just too much. This is a serious crisis. I am pleading with the public to wear your mask. Get your vaccine. If we can’t see you, you’ll have to go to the hospital, and the hospitals are full.”

It is critical the public take the following steps immediately to alleviate the strain on local healthcare systems:

  • Get vaccinated (ages 12+)
  • Wear a mask in all indoor public places, especially schools, and outdoors when you can’t properly distance, to reduce the odds of being exposed to COVID and requiring a test due to exposure or symptoms
  • Established patients of Primary Health, use your Patient Portal to contact us rather than calling a clinic

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