How St. Luke's in Boise is handling COVID-19

St. Lukes
Posted at 4:49 PM, Oct 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-23 20:08:45-04

BOISE, Idaho — While some patients are being sent to Boise from the Magic Valley, travel nurses are from Boise are heading that direction to help with the heavy workload there.

"I mean we are seeing some real increases in our volumes here in the Treasure Valley as well," said Dr. Frank N. Johnson III, a St. Luke's Health Partner. "It's not as much COVID as what they're seeing in the Magic Valley but the volumes are still high."

COVID is only complicating what Dr. Johnson calls a busy time of year for hospitals.

"Communicable diseases are transmitted more frequently that aggravates people's underlying health conditions," said Dr. Johnson.

While hospitals in the Treasure Valley are not at capacity, Dr. Johnson is still concerned about COVID trends locally.

"With COVID, there’s a delay in the effects that we see in our hospital systems and our other capacity of care it takes about two or three weeks before we really start seeing those effects."

In a medical situation like this, St. Luke's has categorized care into three levels:

  • Standard care
    • Normal care, usual structure police and procedures
  • Contingency levels of care
    • The same level of care, different strategies and structures like telehealth/telehospital, remote patient monitoring and sending staff to different facilities
  • Crisis care
    • Can't provide the normal level of care, Governor sets care plan and hospitals enforce, happens under a state of emergency

Right now, the Treasure Valley is operating at the contingency levels of care, which is when the same level of care is being provided, but different strategies are being used. Dr. Johnson says the Treasure Valley has a ways to go before reaching crisis care.

"Crisis standards of care is really when everyone in the state is beyond capacity to care. We have no further ability to provide supplies, staff or facility spaces or provide care for people who show up."

But keeping in mind the delay in effects COVID-19 has within the community, it is important to continue hand washing, mask-wearing and social distancing.

"We are at risk. I really see some difficult decision having to be made when it comes to caring for people right now, because we may not have the capacity to do that if the trajectory continues," said Dr. Johnson. "Making those changes now when we're not in the red alert phase is really important. If we're going to get ahead of this, it just has to be done now."

St. Luke's is also encouraging anyone needing care for a medical issue to come to their hospitals. If you are worried about coronavirus exposure, Dr. Johnsons says they have not had a patient in their hospital contract the virus from another patient or staff member.