Fairbanks Memorial Hospital addresses ICU bed capacity

Published: Sep. 17, 2020 at 4:55 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In recent weeks there has been public discussion on social media regarding ICU bed capacity at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital (FMH). On some days, the Alaska COVID Dashboard shows that the ICU beds at FMH are full or near capacity.

Sarah Martin, the Chief Nursing Officer at FMH said that this doesn’t mean there are no empty beds. She explained that for many years the hospital has had a policy to go to a “divert status” when staffing is running short. Since FMH is a relatively small hospital, Martin said that they can be at max capacity for their staff while still having open beds. The divert status ensures that all of their patients receive care while also making certain they have room for any emergencies that take place in the Interior.

Martin says a divert status means they delay some surgeries that would require ICU care, as well as ask medivac flights to take patients to Anchorage hospitals if possible.

The hospital also took to social media to talk about the ICU capacity.

There has been a bit of talk on social media about our ICU being “full”. We are currently on “divert” status, which is...

Posted by Fairbanks Memorial Hospital on Friday, September 11, 2020

Martin also addressed the dashboard and how people should use it. “In my mind it’s much more important to be aware of trends -- looking at bed capacity for the state, and looking at how the trends are going as far as what our positives are, [and] how many people are impacted from day to day. I would also say [to] please know that we are constantly watching those things, and we are constantly trying to manage our resources in the most conservative way possible to keep everyone safe all the time.”

Martin also encourages people to have be aware of and follow health guidelines. She said this will help ensure that there always is enough staff and resources available to provide care to people in Fairbanks.

Copyright 2020 KTVF. All rights reserved.

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