Saint Alphonsus doctor urges Idahoans to continue social distancing during reopening

Posted at 10:18 AM, May 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-01 12:18:06-04

BOISE, Idaho — Friday marks Stage 1 of reopening Idaho, but there is still a need to continue best practices to flatten the coronavirus curve across the Gem State.

Dr. Ryan Heyborne, Chief Medical Officer for Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center, says he's happy Governor Little is giving the green light to businesses. However, he says despite everyone wanting to get life back to normal, reopening the state doesn't come without risks.

"I still recommend people limit what they do, limit where they go," says Dr. Heyborne. "The same principles that remained in place previously continue, too: good hand hygiene, social distancing, wearing cloth masks in public."

Dr. Heyborne says his biggest concern is for those with chronic medical conditions who may not have sought care during the previous stay-at-home order. He says the reopening stages are a critical time for people to make contact with their doctor.

"It is important to take care of your health--your blood pressure, your diabetes, any chronic medical problems you have, any new medical problems you're developing--please seek care. Putting that off too long is as risky--if not, riskier--than the coronavirus, depending on the condition so continue to make appointments with your doctors," says Dr. Heyborne.

He says while doctors may be somewhat limited when it comes to in-person visits, there are still ways to connect. Emergency rooms remain open, as well as urgent care facilities, and some clinics are offering telehealth options.

Earlier this week, Saint Alphonsus made history by becoming the first in Idaho to use convalescent plasma therapy to treat a COVID-19 patient. Doctors use plasma from a recovered COVID-19 patient and infuse that into a current COVID-19 patient, giving them antibodies to fight the virus.

Dr. Heyborne says the candidate pool is fairly narrow, but they're looking forward to using the therapy.

"We're exploring all possible treatment options, and there are many out there. It's reserved for those patients that are obviously quite ill from the condition, and the procedure went well. It's an exciting therapy that we're able to offer," says Dr. Heyborne.

Recovered patients who may want to donate plasma can do so through the American Red Cross after answering a detailed questionnaire.

"You really have to be completely recovered from a confirmed case, meaning at least 14 days since your last symptoms and potentially a negative test," says Dr. Heyborne.

To find a plasma donation center, click here. The Red Cross is also in need of blood donations.