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Healthcare workers man St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center's coronavirus screening station last week. 

As Blaine County takes steps to limit the spread of coronavirus, which was declared widespread last week, hospitals and healthcare providers maintain the frontline.

Fourteen healthcare workers have tested positive in the South Central Public Health District as of 10 a.m. on Monday, March 23, according to the South Central Public Health District. At least two are emergency department doctors at St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center. (Read more on that here and here.)

In all, Blaine County had 35 lab-confirmed cases of the virus.

“St. Luke’s healthcare workers are some of the most dedicated and hardworking people you’ll ever meet—evidenced by their commitment to working on the frontlines during this time,” St. Luke’s Wood River Public Relations Manager Joy Prudek said Monday morning to the Mountain Express.

Citing privacy concerns, Prudek did not comment on the exact number of healthcare providers at the hospital who are out sick, self-quarantining, or who have tested positive for the virus. Those numbers would not be shared in “normal” circumstances, either, she told the Idaho Mountain Express.

“Due to the fluidity of this event, numbers change on a day to day basis, therefore any numbers we could provide would be a static picture in a fluid situation,” Prudek said. “In a small community like ours, we knew there would be a significant impact to our caregivers, and right now, those who must stay home are doing the exact right thing for them, their families, our patients and communities.”

South Central Public Health District spokeswoman Brianna Bodily said in an email to the Mountain Express on Monday that St. Luke’s has been transparent with the health district about tests coming from their hospitals and any quarantines they have ordered for employees.

While reports of hospitals without sufficient supplies and equipment to respond to the virus’s spread mount, Prudek says one of the benefits of being a hospital part of a larger health system means that resources and equipment can be shared or loaned to any facility that may need it, including ventilators and access to additional beds at other facilities.

“One of the many benefits of being part of St. Luke’s Health System is that resources can be allocated to the location that needs them,” Prudek said.

Prudek confirmed that providers and staff from other parts of the network are being sent to St. Luke’s Wood River to support emergency care, the walk-in clinic and the screening tent operations.

“We’re committed to ensuring all patients get the care they need,” she said. “We are still able and committed to providing emergent care.”

Currently, the walk-in clinic is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Ketchum, and the drive-thru testing area for COVID-19 continues to function daily at the same time.

Beginning today, St. Luke’s Health System is suspending all non-urgent/non-emergent operative and invasive procedures in order to limit exposure risk to patients, staff and providers as well as to conserve needed supplies.

According to a press release from St. Luke’s Magic Valley and St. Luke’s Jerome Public Relation Manager Michelle Bartlome, facilities are suspending non-essential clinic visits or converting them to non-traditional visits via telephone. New visitation policies are also in place; for the details, visit stlukesonline.org.

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