ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 patients, Alaska’s largest hospital on Tuesday implemented crisis standards of care, prioritizing resources and treatment for patients who have the most benefit potential.
“While we are doing our best, we are no longer able to provide the standard of care to every patient who needs our help,” wrote Providence Alaska Medical Center chief of staff Dr Kristen Solana Walkinshaw in a letter addressed to ” to Alaska and delivered on Tuesday.
“The acuteness and number of patients now exceed our resources and our capacity to staff beds with skilled caregivers like nurses and respiratory therapists. We have been forced to implement crisis standards of care within our hospital,” Walkinshaw wrote.
Health officials said statewide that there are 202 patients diagnosed with COVID-19 who are hospitalized, and nine additional patients are under investigation. Officials said 33 of these people are on ventilators.
The state reported that the percentage of patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 stands at 17.5%.
In Providence, more than 30% of adult patients admitted to hospital have tested positive. It also comes at a normally busy time of year for hospitals in Alaska.
Walkinshaw noted that the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, which is regularly updated with virus-related numbers, was “not equipped or designed to reflect the intricacies of providing medical care during this unprecedented time.” Is.”
In Providence, one of only three hospitals in the city of nearly 300,000 residents, officials have developed and enacted procedures to ration medical care and treatment, including dialysis and specialized ventilatory support.
The emergency room in Providence is overflowing, and she said patients wait hours in their cars to see a doctor for emergency care.
Walkinshaw said what happens in Anchorage hospitals affects the entire state because specialized care can often be provided only in the state’s largest city.
“Unfortunately, we are unable to meet this requirement; We no longer have staff, space or beds,” Walkinshaw wrote. “Because of this shortage, we are unable to provide life-saving care to all who need it.”
This has left patients across the state sitting in local hospitals because Providence cannot accept them for transfer.
“If you or your loved one needs special care in Providence, such as a cardiologist, trauma surgeon, or neurosurgeon, sadly we no longer have space. There are no more staff beds left,” she wrote.
Walkinshaw said he expects an increase in COVID-19 cases over the next two to four weeks, making an already tense situation potentially “rapid progression into catastrophe”, she said.
She said the most important thing people can do is get vaccinated. Alaska was the first state to open up vaccinations to all residents. As of Monday, 56.5% of eligible Alaskans have been vaccinated.
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican who has recovered from COVID-19 and been vaccinated, said staff in Alaska hospitals are working longer hours, with some leaving their jobs. And there are capacity concerns.
Dunleavy, who never imposed a statewide mask mandate, has faced criticism in the past from some people who say they have not come forward enough in support of vaccinations.
“I urge, and I hope you guys print it, I strongly urge people to get a vaccine, strongly urge them to do so,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Walkinshaw also said that everyone should wear a mask, even if they have been vaccinated, and avoid activities without a mask. He also urged people who are sick or exposed to be tested and asked people to avoid activities and situations of potential danger that may increase the need for emergency services to seek medical care.
“Unfortunately, if you are seriously injured, our trauma center may not have a bed available to save your life,” Walkinshaw wrote.
Associated Press journalist Becky Bohrer contributed to this report from Juno, Alaska.