IDAHO FALLS — The first COVID-19 patient admitted to Idaho Falls Community Hospital was recently discharged after a lengthy stay.
An Idaho Falls man — whose name and age isn’t being released by the hospital — was diagnosed with COVID-19 after traveling outside of the state for work, according to a news release. But after almost 50 days in the intensive care unit, he was released from the hospital a few weeks ago.
“It was a tremendous day for our team when we were finally able to discharge this patient,” Dr. John Miller, director of Idaho Falls Community Hospital’s ICU, said in a news release. “We are grateful he had the fight in him and we had the team and medical tools necessary to help him recover and reunite with his wife.”
Shortly after being admitted to the hospital, the patient, who had an underlying health condition, was placed on a ventilator and given an immunosuppressive drug called Actemra, the news release said. The drug has been used on other patients at the hospital, and Miller believes Actemra played a part in saving the patient’s life.
In some cases, COVID-19 causes patients’ immune systems to go into overdrive to attack the virus and continues to attack healthy cells in the body. This complication is broadly known as a cytokine storm, the news release explains. Early research is showing immunosuppressant drugs, like Actemra, can prevent a cytokine storm and help patients with their recovery.
The infectious disease doctors at the hospital were the ones who suggested giving the Idaho Falls man Actemra after seeing early signs of a cytokine storm, the news release said.
“We are very lucky to have two infectious disease doctors who are available 24 hours a day. They are an integral part of the team and bring us the latest research and treatments from around the world,” Miller said. “They have a global network of colleagues around the world who have been sharing information about the coronavirus. Some of these doctors are in the hardest-hit areas, so we’ve been able to learn from their experiences and (have a) growing understanding of how to treat the virus.”
The news release said the patient still has a long road ahead to gain back his full strength, but doctors anticipate he will make a full recovery from the virus.
Idaho Falls Community Hospital has treated six COVID-19 patients. Three of those patients were admitted to the ICU. As of Wednesday afternoon, Idaho Falls Community Hospital spokeswoman Natalie Podgorski said one individual remains in ICU.
Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center spokeswoman Coleen Niemann said there are currently two positive COVID-19 patients at EIRMC.
“The challenge of COVID-19 (is) it truly brings together and requires the efforts of the entire team to be extremely focused on saving the patient,” Miller told EastIdahoNews.com. “It’s a patient-centered approach … the care is extremely custom-tailored to each one but based on guiding principles, but it takes the entire multidisciplinary team to enact the care.”
Miller encourages anybody who feels they have COVID-19 symptoms to be very meticulous about quarantining and physically distancing yourself from other individuals. He also said it’s important to get tested as soon as possible if you feel you have the virus.
Possible COVID-19 exposure in Pocatello
Southeastern Idaho Public Health announced Wednesday that customers who ate at the Perkins Restaurant located at 1600 Pocatello Creek Road in Pocatello on June 2 or 3 may have been exposed to COVID-19. A server at the restaurant has been confirmed as having the virus.
The health department said while the risk to public health is low, there is the possibility that customers could have been exposed to COVID-19. They recommend individuals who were at Perkins during that timeframe monitor themselves for fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain,
sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell.
“Exposure to wait staff is more than casual contact like you would have at a grocery or convenience store,” Southeastern Idaho Public Health District Director Maggie Mann said in a news release. “Because of the nature of the contact, we believe it is important to notify the public.”
Experts believe symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure. If you experience any of the previously mentioned symptoms, contact your healthcare provider.
The latest state/eastern Idaho COVID-19 numbers
As of Wednesday evening, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports the number of confirmed and probable cases statewide is 3,260. Of those positive cases, about 81 percent have now lived at least 30 days since initial infection and are presumed recovered.
A case is considered probable if a person has not been tested, or a test is pending, and the person has all the symptoms of COVID-19, has come into direct contact with an infected person, and developed symptoms within the expected timeframe.
Community Hospital’s patient’s experience was rare among COVID-19 patients, as most will recover at home with no problems. So far, only 262 people in the entire state have required hospitalization since mid-March.
The IDHW also reports 85 deaths have now been tied to COVID-19, as of Wednesday. Of that number, a test confirmed 65, and 20 are considered probable.
As of Tuesday, the number of confirmed or probable cases in eastern Idaho jumped to 227, according to Eastern Idaho Public Health and Southeast Idaho Public Health District. Of that number, around 110 individuals are still symptomatic and are being monitored by the district.
A little over 100 eastern Idahoans have now recovered from the coronavirus as of Tuesday, according to both health districts.
For more COVID-19 news, click here.