CEO of Primary Health Medical Group says facilities are being 'overwhelmed' by pandemic

Posted at 10:31 PM, Dec 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-10 10:22:20-05

BOISE, Idaho — The CEO of Primary Health Medical Group said the demand for tests is high, and facilities are overwhelmed. That's the message Dr. David Peterman was trying to share at Tuesday's Central District Health meeting before it ended abruptly.

"We, at the level of primary care, are overwhelmed. We normally received 1,800 to 2,000 calls a day in our 20 clinics. There are now over 4,000," Peterman said.

Employee illnesses have also left them short-staffed, forcing them to close clinics.

"Our staff and doctors have gotten coronavirus or symptoms from community spread. They didn't get it in our clinics but from community spread," He explained.

Dr. Peterman said the impacts of the pandemic had interrupted routine care for other patients. In one case, he added there's a hold-up for a two-year-old boy to receive speech therapy.

"We would get this child behavioral therapy, that is being all delay because of coronavirus, because coronavirus positivity rate and the number of cases is high in Ada and Canyon counties," he said. "It is interfering with this two-year-old's treatment, and that could have lifelong consequences."

The challenges the primary health medical group faces were at the top of the list during the central district health board meeting, but it ended quickly for safety reasons.

Dr. Peterman said he had hoped to share in the meeting that it's time for people to do their part and wear a mask to protect the vulnerable and ensure access to care.

"What I'm suggesting is, what could happen to the hospital in 10 days to two weeks is happening in primary care now. We, as a community, need to take the responsibility to protect not just ourselves and our family and our community, and that is done by wearing a mask," he said.

On Friday, The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare board will be voting on a rule for standards crisis of care. The virtual meeting will start at 9:00 a.m.