Jackson Hospital CEO Concerned With Capacity, Town Council Looking At New Variances

Dec 2, 2020

St. John's Health CEO Dr. Paul Beaupre wrote a letter to the Jackson Town Council saying the hospital is at capacity and at risk of being overwhelmed. The council held an emergency meeting after receiving the letter.

Beupre told the council that the hospital has experienced a tremendous influx of COVID-19 patients in the past week. The ICU is full, and 40 staff members are out quarantining. And he said options are becoming limited.

"We know that surrounding communities have a large influx of positive cases," said Beaupre. "Sublette County Living Center just had an outbreak. Twelve residents are sick. If all of those 12 living center residents who are elderly need services, they would come to us which would quickly fill up our ICUs and our additional capacity on the floors."

Beupre said his biggest concern is the way that the community is acting. Council members and public health officials in the meeting repeated the community is tired of the pandemic. But health officials stressed that if people want a semi-normal holiday, they need to follow the rules.

Beaupre said if things don't get better, the hospital may soon need to create an ethics committee.

"That would have the unfortunate description of sitting down and making hard decisions of who would get care and who wouldn't if we got to that point. We could get to that point," he said.

Teton County Health Department and other local officials are planning to take proposed variances to the state health department. The hope is these regulations will go in effect as soon as possible. If the state declines to approve, the council said they will pass a local variance. Some things they are considering are limiting gatherings to household members only and limiting hours and capacity of restaurants and bars.