Dear Intermountain caregivers:
We’re incredibly proud of the courage and commitment you have shown these past few months. We’ve always known this is a special place with innovative, strong, and compassionate people, but never has that been more apparent than it is now.
Last week, elected officials in Utah reclassified the COVID-19 risk from high (red) to moderate (orange). This move might lead some to assume that preparation for a potential surge is now unnecessary. Surge planning is still necessary—in fact, it’s as important as ever.
We support continuation of safe practices as businesses begin to reopen. In alignment with the state, we are cautiously opening some ambulatory services with strict safety precautions and guidelines. We also hope people in our communities will do their part to help slow the spread. This is a dynamic situation and it’s hard to know exactly what will happen. However, it’s our responsibility to prepare for any scenario, including a potentially significant surge.
Over the past 10 days since the announcement to move to moderate risk (orange) status in Utah, there has been an uptick in the number of hospitalizations, with particular hot spots in Utah and San Juan counties. At the same time there have been very few cases in Burley, Idaho. As a result, Cassia Regional will be lifting some of their restrictions. We’re watching every area in our system closely and will be ready to respond effectively as the pandemic unfolds in our communities. We cannot be complacent. The risk of one or more large COVID-19 surges in Utah remains a very real concern.
Our surge planning process balances local and system needs. We’re aligning and coordinating surge plans across the system using an agile process. We’ll match caregivers with the facilities, protective equipment, and supplies they need to care for patients. We anticipate there may be variations in surge activity across the system.
- Intermountain’s surge plan uses a step-based approach to keep us prepared in advance of issues. Our targets and timelines are based on daily insight from surge planning scenarios, experience in our facilities, and the prevalence of testing.
- Local and system coordination is ongoing. Hospital Incident Command teams are monitoring the situation in their communities, while our Operations and Planning Incident Command teams are evaluating system needs. This level of coordination will ensure we are ready for whatever comes.
- Our first surge step target date is Monday, May 11. This target date means that designated space within our hospitals is prepared to accommodate a surge and staff are identified to cover those units during a surge, with the ability to be operational within one week. The decision on when and if the unit is actually put into service will be made by the local Hospital Incident Command, in conjunction with the Operations Section of the System Incident Command.
- Target dates for future steps have not yet been determined. Beds, staffing, and equipment needs have been identified and plans are in place for each step. Purchases of additional equipment and supplies will continue if needed.
- Cross-training and redeployment must continue to ensure surge staffing readiness. These actions are not only vital to our surge staffing plans, but they keep caregivers working and expanding their skills and experiences. We may also need to take additional steps to ensure we are adequately staffed before, during, and after a surge. This may include recruiting temporary caregivers or bringing in support teams from other health systems (i.e., New York). If necessary, caregivers also may be asked to temporarily limit requests for personal time off or work extra on-call shifts.
You are a much needed and trusted source of truth for community leaders, neighbors, friends and family, and your influence and support are vital. The attached Talking Points provide a quick reference to help you answer questions and share our message with your teams and in the community. As we unite together, we believe we can influence how COVID-19 unfolds in our areas.
Thank you for your flexibility, and commitment during this unprecedented time. We’re certain Intermountain will emerge from this pandemic stronger than ever. Our teams and our plans are in place. We stand ready.
SVP and Chief Operating Officer
Mark Briesacher, MD
SVP and Chief Physician Executive
Sue Robel, RN
SVP Clinical Operations and Chief Nursing Executive