Lemhi County Transitions into CRITICAL RISK Level
November 09, 2020
On November 5, 2020, Eastern Idaho Public Health (EIPH) issued an Order of Restriction moving Lemhi County in to Critical Risk Category,
“The rate of COVID-19 infections reported to EIPH for Lemhi County, Idaho, has exceeded the established threshold of 45/15,000 for three consecutive days in accordance with EIPH's COVID-19 Regional Response Plan, which outlines restrictions for slowing the spread of COVID-19.” Lemhi County has reached as high as 78.5/ 15,000 persons.
Steele Memorial Medical Center (SMMC) has faced staffing challenges due to a number of staff contracting covid-19 and/or family members having contracted or exposed to covid-19. Exposed or sick staff are following recommended guidelines and remain on leave until released by EIPH.
The rural geography and general remoteness of Salmon causes a limited staffing depth, were SMMC only has so many Physicians, Nurses, Dietary staff, Environmental staff, etc. In order to reallocate resources to critical services, some outpatient services such as wellness exams have been rescheduled. In addition to working through staffing, Steele has had to work through finding accepting higher level of care facilities. At this time, patients are being sent to any accepting location in the region as close as Idaho Falls, Idaho and as far as Kalispell, Montana.
In addition to day to day staffing and patient transfers, Steele Memorial is faced with a rapid test shortage. At this time, the majority of Covid tests are sent to an outside Quest lab resulting in a 3-4 day turnaround time. They hope to have new in-house rapid testing options by December. “Through all of these unique day to day challenges, staff are in good spirits. They are dedicated to providing the best patient care. They are dedicated to taking care of one another, often stepping up and working countless overtime hours. Staff have even embraced cross training to help out other departments”, says Lisa Loughran, CNO.
Working with the local radio station KSRA, Steele Memorial has provided weekly live hospital updates along with education for slowing the spread since February. SMMC shares the message of Eastern Idaho Public Health of wearing masks, social distancing, staying home when sick, and washing hands frequently. “The community is strong and we will get through this together”, says Jenny Tracy, Public Information Officer.