Story at a glance

  • Amid statewide outbreaks, Alaskan health care systems are implementing crisis care standards due to strained resources.
  • The new new guidance affects 20 hospitals.
  • Health Department Commissioner Adam Crum urges ill Alaskans to still seek care.

On Saturday, Alaska’s Department of Health implemented new care protocols for 20 of the state’s health care facilities as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.

The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) formally activated the state’s crisis care standards this past weekend following a request from the State Crisis Care Committee. Some of the hospitals affected include Alaska Native Medical Center, Norton Sound Health Corporation,  South Peninsula Hospital, Petersburg Medical Center and Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center.

Data from Alaska documents a steady increase in new cases since early September, with 966 of the total 1,300 hospital beds occupied.

With the crisis standards in place, hospital staff will have new guidelines to allocate scarce medical resources, including oxygen, ventilators, renal replacement technology and hospital beds. 

“Our work to support Alaska’s health care facilities continues,” added Heidi Hedberg, director of the Division of Public Health. “We are working alongside our health care facilities to provide state and federal resources to support the surge of patients. We are also imploring Alaskans to do their part. Please get vaccinated if you have not done so already, wear a mask when needed and keep your social circles small.”

Nationwide, the U.S. saw a drop in new COVID-19 infections by 28 percent over the past two weeks. Alaska notably leads the country in new cases, as regions like the South and Midwest are still grappling with counties with high rates of transmission. 

DHSS Commissioner Adam Crum reiterated that hospitals under new standards of care are still open and operable and advised Alaskans seeking medical care not to delay.

“This activation was requested by the Crisis Care Committee so our health care providers could continue to provide the best medical care possible for Alaskans under good faith immunity,” he said in the press announcement. 

Published on Oct 04, 2021