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New leaders at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center say contingency plans will help them manage an omicron surge in hospitalizations, if the facility sees what hospitals on the East Coast and now across the country are experiencing.

“I feel very confident that we are prepared should we move into another surge,” said Nicholas Manning, who returned to EIRMC this month as chief operations officer after a stint managing the pandemic in upstate New York for Rochester General Hospital.

Wendy McClain, the newly appointed vice president of operations, is also optimistic for the next pandemic chapter, and the Idaho hospital’s ongoing partnership with St. John’s Health in Jackson.

“One lesson that we have all learned in the health care industry is it takes each and every one of us to support each other,” she told the Jackson Hole Daily.

St. John’s closely partners with EIRMC and Salt Lake Regional Medical Center to provide patients specialized and tertiary care. During the pandemic, 37 of Jackson’s 491 COVID-19 patients have been transferred to those medical centers.

“As a larger health center in our region, EIRMC has long been an important partner to St. John’s,” Chief Communications Officer Karen Connelly said in an email.

But the pandemic has also strained that partnership for a couple of reasons, Manning said. Staff shortages and high COVID-19 censuses at both facilities have made it more difficult to continue offering essential, non-emergency procedures, he said, adding that staffing levels at EIRMC are “still sufficient to meet the needs of the community.”

Contact Evan Robinson-Johnson at 732-5901 or

Evan Robinson-Johnson covers issues residents face on a daily basis, from smoky skies to housing insecurity. Originally from New England, he has settled in east Jackson and avoids crowds by rollerblading through the alleyways.

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