Fairbanks Memorial Hospital faces staffing challenges due to Omicron infections

Published: Jan. 27, 2022 at 5:04 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Like many other healthcare organizations, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital (FMH) is working to overcome the challenges presented by the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2.

According to Dr. Angelique Ramirez, Chief Medical Officer for Foundation Health Partners, the largest hurdle FMH is working to overcome is staff shortages.

“It’s been very challenging,” Dr. Ramirez explained. “The biggest impact by far has been on staffing. We, like everyone in the community, have been impacted by the rising case rate. The number of staff we have out today due to positive COVID tests is 84, and that has been steadily increasing. Then in addition, we have more staff that are out sick waiting for test results, or who have been exposed.”

Staffing problems have also led to issues with delays in various services offered.

Dr. Ramirez elaborated, “It has really impacted operations in a way that we are seeing delays in being able to answer the phone, delays in first care, delays in the emergency room at times, [and] delays in people coming in for scheduled exams. That’s the way it’s really been manifesting itself.”

Despite these challenges, FMH has continued to offer all services according to Dr. Ramirez. “We’ve been managing as we’ve been managing throughout,” she continued. “We have an instant command structure that meets on a regular basis. That’s monitoring who’s here and who’s available. We’ve not eliminated any services at this point on a routine basis. That said, on a day to day basis, occasionally we are not able to provide a service that we normally provide. But we’ve really been managing that on a day-to-day or every-other-day basis, rather than making plans to eliminate the service.”

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