mmh mask

Ciera Smith, admittance clerk at Madison Memorial Hospital.

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Hospitals in the south and southeastern regions of Idaho have banded together to release a joint statement calling for their communities to take responsibility to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

According to the statement published by Eastern Idaho Public Health on Thursday, hospitals in the region are experiencing the highest number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 ever seen throughout the pandemic.

“This is placing a significant strain on hospital resources,” the statement says. “Healthcare workers are the most valuable asset in the healthcare system, even more so than bed availability.”

The statement calls for communities to embrace the “flatten the curve” strategy, which is a community-wide plan to slow the spread of COVID-19 and not overwhelm the healthcare system.

“We believe it is time to embrace this concept (of flattening the curve) to help local hospitals handle the demand brought on by this community spread,” the statement says.

The hospitals ask their communities to practice personal responsibility behaviors recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those behaviors are: wearing a mask over the nose and mouth in public and interacting with people not in your household, avoiding large gatherings even among people you know, frequent handwashing, and practicing physical distancing by giving people six feet of space.

“We are asking our communities to practice the personal responsibility behaviors that science has indicated will reduce the spread of COVID-19, as well as other infectious illnesses such as influenza,” the statement says.

Madison Memorial Hospital was one of the hospitals that participated in the joint statement. Douglas McBride, hospital executive director of business, said the joint statement is an example of the hospitals consistently sharing information and resources with each other.

Data collected by EIPH reports that Madison County has 255 active COVID-19 cases as of Oct. 15. The active rate of cases is at 63.9 per 10,000 and there have been two deaths caused by COVID-19.

McBride said the joint statement is an effort from the hospitals to communicate a simple and direct message to people who may be tired of hearing about COVID-19.

“We feel that people are really tired of COVID and we too are really tired of COVID,” McBride said. “I think that people are getting tired of the messaging.”

Despite the COVID fatigue communities may feel, McBride said the hospitals sent out this message to clearly state the concerns health care professionals have.

“We want to be able to unify our voices and get something that is clear and direct to people,” he said.

Mimi Taylor, EIPH public information officer, said EIPH supports the hospitals’ efforts.

“Our main goal has always been to educate people to help slow down the spread as to not send too many people to the hospital to impact their capacity to serve their patients,” Taylor said.

Participating hospitals that joined to express this statement are: Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, Portneuf Medical Center, Madison Memorial Hospital, Idaho Falls Community Hospital, Mountain View Hospital, Steele Memorial Medical Center, Teton Valley Hospital, Lost Rivers Medical Center, Bear Lake Memorial Hospital, Caribou Memorial Hospital, Franklin County Medical Center, Minidoka Memorial Hospital, Neil J. Redfield Memorial Hospital, Power Country Hospital District, and Intermountain Cassia Regional Medical Center.