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Twin Falls City Council asks for the public’s help in stopping the spread of COVID-19

Hospital is reaching capacity, patients may soon have to be transferred.
Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 3:21 AM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - On Monday night, the Twin Falls City Council received some alarming news from Dr. Joshua Kern, Vice President of medical affairs for St. Luke’s Magic Valley medical facilities.

Dr. Kern said the St. Luke’s Magic Valley hospital is approaching the tipping point for transferring patients, even those who need to be admitted to the ER, out of the Magic Valley, and to other hospitals outside of the area.

“Because our hospital has been full enough, and we have enough staff out sick with COVID. We are getting to the point where we can’t take more patients,” Kern said.

He said as of Monday morning, the hospital had more than 40 COVID-19 patients in the hospital, and for at least this week and possibly into next week, the hospital will not be doing elected surgery cases that require the patient to be in the hospital overnight.

“But we will not be doing those this week to try to save on beds and to save on nursing,” Kern said.

He also said last week, he heard from the South Central Health District that “something like 25%” of all the Magic Valley COVID-19 cases had happened in the prior two weeks.

“So that gives you a sense of how rapidly this has come on,” Kern said.

He said if St. Luke’s does have to end up moving patients out of the Magic Valley area and admit them to alternative sites like Boise, there is a chance that Boise won’t be able to take the patients because they are in the exact same situation with COVID-19. If that happens, they might have to explore the idea of transferring patients to surrounding states.

After hearing the news, every member of the City Council started pleading with the public to help slow the spread of the virus.

Twin Falls Councilman Greg Lanting admonished people who are refusing to wear face masks because he is getting “tired” of people close to him dying from COVID, or being “sick for 60 days”.

“I spent 10 years in the military ... and one of the first things you learn is to put your country before yourself. We are not doing that right now folks,” Lanting said. “As I walk around the community and I see people who don’t have a mask on in a situation where they are around people. They are putting themselves before their country."

The councilman ended by saying things are not going to get fully open and get back to normal unless people start becoming part of the solution to stop the spread of the virus by wearing face masks.

Twin Falls councilman Chris Reid said there needs to be a discussion among local leaders about getting information out to the public about what is happening at the hospital.

“Once you realize the situation we are in, I think people are going to be more willing. If they don’t want to wear a mask, stay away from places,” Reid said. “Because we are in a very serious situation right now as a community."

Kern suggested community partners put messaging on their reader boards that read something simple like: “COVID numbers are up. Wear your mask."

Twin Falls Mayor Suzanne Hawkins said she almost feels like this week is the last plea, the last effort, to ask everyone to do their part.

“If you are adamant about not wanting to wear your mask — stay home, order your food and take it out,” Hawkins said. “Help us out. Be part of the community and step up to the plate.”

She also said it’s time for people to start thinking about making tough decisions.

“I promise you as the mother of six children, if your children do not get to go trick-or-treating this year they will not die,” Hawkins said.

In closing, the mayor of Twin Falls said the local community needs to help the hospital out and give nurses and doctors a chance to get this outbreak under control, so they can care for those who need care.

“And then you don’t have to worry about government regulations and rules and ordinances, that I have heard from so many people that you don’t want,” Hawkins said.

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