Keith Gnagey

Teton Valley Health CEO Keith Gnagey gives the Driggs City Council an update on Covid and crisis standard of care on Sept. 21.

New guidance from the Centers for Disease Control has prompted Teton Valley healthcare providers to begin offering Covid booster shots to certain populations and adults in high risk occupations.

In a statement on Sept. 24, the CDC director endorsed third, or booster, vaccine doses of Pfizer for the elderly, people in long-term care facilities, people with underlying medical conditions, and adults at high risk of exposure in their workplace. (For a complete breakdown of eligible groups, visit cdc.gov.)

Teton County, working with its healthcare partners, issued a press release on Friday outlining the locations where vaccines are available and where eligible members of the community can receive a third dose.

Teton Valley Health will continue to offer both Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at the Driggs Clinic (located at 283 North First Street) on a walk-in basis Tuesday through Friday between 9:00am — 3:30 p.m. To ensure that they can meet demand for the Pfizer booster shot, TVH will begin administering booster shots only to those aged 75 and older.

Eastern Idaho Public Health will continue offering Covid vaccinations at the Driggs office (located at 820 Valley Centre Drive) on Tuesdays (but with limited capacity on Wednesday, September 29). Hours for appointments will vary. Boosters will be available to everyone in the groups approved by the CDC. Appointments can be made by calling (208) 533-3223 (generally, Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. — 5:00 p.m.).

Corner Drug (located at 10 Main Street) will continue to offer vaccines, and now the Pfizer booster, Monday through Saturday between 9:00 a.m. — 6:30 p.m. for all categories approved by CDC.

Broulim’s Pharmacy (located at 240 S Main Street) will continue to offer vaccines, and now the Pfizer booster, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday between 10:00 a.m. — 12:00 p.m. and between 3:00 p.m. — 4:30 p.m. for all categories approved by the CDC.

“All agencies appreciate everyone’s cooperation as we work together to get through the current surge in cases,” the press release reads.

As of Friday evening, there were 50 active Covid cases in Teton County, according to the EIPH dashboard. The Post Register reported on Monday that deaths due to Covid in eastern Idaho rose last week to a level higher than anything seen since January, with 12 new deaths tracked by EIPH in the week that ended on Sept. 25.

Teton Valley Health CEO Keith Gnagey presented to the Driggs City Council last Tuesday and then to Victor on Wednesday. Because the state had activated crisis standards of care for all hospitals on Sept. 16, Gnagey explained what crisis care meant, but noted that Teton Valley Hospital is not at crisis standard yet, and is still able to do some elective surgeries, for example. Rather, the hospital is operating at contingency care, meaning it is short of space, or staffing, or supplies, but has not had to ration care.

The hospital is seeing more inpatients than usual, as well as a large inflow at clinics, which Gnagey said is a common sight a few weeks after school starts each fall.

He noted that with the medical staff stretched thin, the senior administrative team has learned how to do non-medical duties such as “re-provisioning bathrooms.” The large number of patients in ICUs in the region has caused delays in transport for TVH; for one local patient, that meant being moved to Twin Falls for care, and another had to wait two days before transport.

Around 60 percent of patients served at TVH this month have been Covid-positive, Gnagey said. He added that over 90 percent of people who have been hospitalized due to Covid are not fully vaccinated.

“We owe it to ourselves and our community to get the vaccine,” Gnagey said. “Plain and simple, the vaccine remains our best way to fight the pandemic.”