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Official: Alaska hospitals have capacity for virus patients

Alaska’s hospitals have not experienced a spike in patients and have enough capacity to provide care despite a recent increase in coronavirus cases, an industry official said.
Alaska’s hospitals have not experienced a spike in patients and have enough capacity to provide care despite a recent increase in coronavirus cases, an industry official said.(MGM)
Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 4:31 PM AKDT
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UPDATE: We just wanted to offer some clarification related to this story as well as a story that was published earlier in the week.

The first article contains information shared by officials from an Alaska health care company to KYUK-AM about an ICU level patient in Bethel that had to be held for an extra day because of lack of availability for an ICU bed in Anchorage. The article, shared from the Alaska Associated Press office, did not clearly express that the community of Bethel and YKHC Chief of Staff Dr. Ellen Hodges, were the source of concern about space and care availability in the state.

“This was an ICU-level patient, and all the ICU beds in Anchorage were full,” said YKHC Chief of Staff Dr. Ellen Hodges. “So we’ve already reached, I think, the limits of our capacity of the healthcare of the state. So it makes some of these mitigation strategies more important.”

It can’t be said if the lack of ICU beds in Anchorage was related to COVID or just the normal uptick that hospitals start to see this time of year. ICU bed availability also changes rapidly day to day. The concerns expressed by officials in Bethel were more about the overall number of ICU beds in Alaska then the amount of them currently being used for COVID patients.

The article below goes into further depth about current care capacities and hospitalizations in the state, saying that hospitals are becoming busier but that these hospitals are also prepared for the uptick in non-COVID related patients as well as any new cases of COVID that may require medical care.

Providing up to date and accurate information is important to us here at KTVF and we hope this better clarifies where some might have found conflicting information.

(AP) - Alaska’s hospitals have not experienced a spike in patients and have enough capacity to provide care despite a recent increase in coronavirus cases, an industry official said.

Alaska set a record with a report by the state Monday of 197 new COVID-19 cases among residents, Alaska Public Media reported Monday.

Anchorage reported 116 new confirmed cases, a single-day total that was only exceeded once in late July.

The Fairbanks North Star Borough recorded 55 confirmed cases Monday, which is the highest total there since the start of the pandemic earlier this year.

State health officials issued a warning Monday that cases are continuing to rise.

The state’s hospitals are becoming busier, but that is not unusual heading into winter, said Jared Kosin, chief executive of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, a hospital trade group.

The number of coronavirus patients does not seem to be spiking, Kosin said.

“If you were to ask, ‘How is the hospital world looking today?’ It’s looking consistent with what it’s looked like before,” Kosin said. “There’s no major alarm bells going off. Things are intact.”

Hospitals are not experiencing unusual challenges in finding staff to care for patients, he said.

But Kosin stressed hospitals are observing a lagging indicator, referring to the time for people to become seriously ill or require hospitalization after being diagnosed with the virus.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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