Sweetwater County Health Officials Weigh in on COVID-19

Sweetwater County Health Officials Weigh in on COVID-19

Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County Dr. Melinda Poyer addresses how COVID-19 Coronavirus is impacting Sweetwater County. Zoom photo

ROCK SPRINGS — As COVID-19 positivity rates continue to hover around 30-35 percent at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County (MHSC) and 20-25 percent at Castle Rock Medical Center, Sweetwater County Public Health Officer Dr. Jean Stachon asked local health officials for an update on the COVID-19 Coronavirus situation in a virtual meeting today.

During this informational meeting, local healthcare officials had the opportunity to voice their concerns about the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic.

MHSC general surgeon and Sweetwater County School District No. 1 consulting physician, Dr. Brianne Crofts said she’s not on the front lines, but she does help care for COVID-19 patients and knows how it’s impacting the hospital.

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“One of the messages I would like to get across is we don’t have a cure for COVID-19. All we can do is provide some treatment therapies and provide support,” Crofts said.

She said COVID-19 patients receive oxygen and they are monitored closely 24/7.

The second piece of COVID-19, is you can’t predict who is going to get sick, how sick they are going to be and for how long they are going to be sick.

~MHSC general surgeon and Sweetwater County School District No. 1 consulting physician, Dr. Brianne Crofts

Crofts pointed out that those COVID-19 patients are very time consuming. She said that MHSC is in the same boat as all other hospitals across the country. They can’t find respiratory therapists and also are experiencing ICU nurse shortages.

“My piece for the public, the community, everybody that lives in Sweetwater County is the mask mandate I think is a very important thing,” Crofts said.

Since the mandate, Crofts has noticed a change in behavior and more people are wearing masks. She said masks do make a difference in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“Everybody’s going to be effected somehow by this,” Crofts said.

In the next seven to 10 days, the county will see the impacts of the Thanksgiving holiday and they anticipate seeing the same thing after Christmas, she said.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Melinda Poyer said she would like help from Wyoming National Guard and the hospital is looking at the possibility of moving the testing location to Sweetwater Events Complex. Currently, MHSC is testing about 240 people per day. They are no longer giving the general public rapid tests, as those are being saved for healthcare workers.

Poyer said COVID-19 patients are tending to need ICU care longer than their typical patients who visit the ICU and they must be closely monitored.

“These are our community members. These are people that we know and love,” Poyer said.

Dr. Connie Fauntleroy of Castle Rock Medical Center said the center is seeing a 20-25 percent positivity rate with about 60 residents being tested daily. CRMC employees are trying to figure out how to keep providing services to patients without COVID-19 symptoms.

All industries, schools, businesses are starting to be impacted by the increase in COVID-19, she said.

This is going to be our reality now for months.

~ Dr. Connie Fauntleroy of Castle Rock Medical Center

She said a lot of COVID-19 patients are getting lonely because they don’t have anyone to see them while they are recovering and that’s something that’s overlooked.

Contract Tracing and Vaccines

Sweetwater County Public Health nurse Trista Cross, said one full-time and 24 part-time employees are helping with contract tracing. They also have employees contacting residents to let them know they have tested positive for the virus.

They are now seven to 10 days behind on contract tracing. High priority cases such as those involving schools, health care workers, or nursing homes are first.

Even if someone tests positive, it will be a little while before public health contacts them. Cross said residents should not wait for public health to contact them. She said if they test positive they should start letting close contacts know. The Wyoming Department of Health has a lot of great information on steps one should take if they test positive for the virus and how contract tracing works.

“We really just need people to take self-responsibility and recognize that information is out there on what they need to do and just do it without specifically being called and told what to do,” Cross said with contract tracing.

Sweetwater County Public Health employee Ronda Zancanella said they are continuing to look into vaccines and they have participated in statewide monthly meetings to come up with a plan on distributing the vaccine.

It’s going to be spring or summer before there is enough vaccines available for everyone, Poyer said. The healthcare providers and elderly will be first.


What to do if you feel sick: If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and are showing symptoms, please call your primary care provider or seek medical attention.

Please follow these tips to slow the spread of this virus:

  • Follow Public Health Orders
  • Practice social distancing of 6 feet or more.
  • Wear cloth face coverings in public settings, especially when physical distancing of at least 6 feet isn’t available.
  • Stay home when sick and avoid other people unless you need medical attention.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Older people and those with health conditions that mean they have a higher chance of getting seriously ill should avoid close-contact situations.
  • Long-term care and healthcare facilities should follow guidelines for infection control and prevention.

For current news, updates, closures and resources, please visit our COVID-19 Coronavirus page here.