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Health Report: Fairbanks Memorial Hospital returns to contingency standards of care

Published: Nov. 9, 2021 at 4:05 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Fairbanks Memorial Hospital (FMH) has returned from crisis standards of care to the contingency standard.

According to Dr. Angelique Ramirez, Chief Medical Officer for Foundation Health Partners, FMH returned to contingency standards on November 6th due to a drop in COVID-19 case rates.

“We are having fewer hospital admissions,” Dr. Ramirez explained. “We are still getting hospital admissions, but moving to crisis standards of care was a really big deal. That’s something that we’ve never done and I’ve never experienced. At that point, our capacity was so stretched that we were really not in a position where we could guarantee the same standard of care for every patient that we took care of.”

Dr. Ramirez continued, “But with the decrease in COVID transmission in the community, we are having decreasing admissions. We’re still getting admissions, we still have COVID, and so contingency standards... we’re still very busy, but we’re at a point where we can consistently guarantee to every patient that we will be able to achieve the standards of care that we have always wanted to.”

However, while cases are going down and there has been a decrease in hospitalizations due to COVID-19, FMH still recommends following CDC recommendations.

“We’re definitely getting better,” Dr. Ramirez elaborated. “That said, from a community perspective, we are still having a case rate that is considered high transmission. So anybody who’s vulnerable, anybody who isn’t vaccinated, is still at risk - so we’re still recommending the same COVID mitigation in terms of masking and most importantly vaccination. That is the best protection for anybody. But the reality is also that the rates are decreasing. So what that means for the community is that our hospital has greater capacity for care which means we can do care the way we’ve always done.”

Dr. Ramirez continued, “We need time for the kids to get vaccinated, those drives are just starting now, and we need the rates to come down now more. So we’re still recommending following the CDC guidance of masking indoors when there’s crowds or public places.”

Fairbanks Memorial Hospital is thankful to the community for the support throughout the pandemic according to Dr. Ramirez.

“One word that really resonates is gratitude,” Dr. Ramirez remarked. “I think it’s what’s gotten us through, and I think one of the areas of gratitude is the gratitude for all the support from the community - having the support from the community, having the thank-you’s from the communities. We’ve had patient family members buy pizza for our staff. Having all that just makes it. It’s been kind of dark times for some of our staff and having all that support from the community has really been very well received... very, very much appreciated.”

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