Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. urges month-long shutdown in YK Delta

Published: Nov. 16, 2020 at 1:46 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. has made its first region-wide recommendation for a shutdown after increasing COVID-19 cases have strained the region’s health care capacity.

The corporation is asking all communities in the YK Delta to enter or extend community shelter-in-place lockdowns to reduce the community transmission of COVID-19. In a release, YKHC said it would use a month-long shutdown period to “implement crisis capacity care strategies for the region’s healthcare facilities.”

“When there is no overflow capacity available for YKHC to transfer critically ill patients that need intensive care to hospitals outside the region, we may be forced to make difficult choices when it comes to activating medevacs, providing care, and allocating scarce patient care resources,” YKHC Chief of Staff Dr. Ellen Hodges said in a statement. "YKHC continues to treat older, sicker patients requiring hospitalization and we are highly concerned as COVID-19 infection rates show no signs of slowing.'

Starting Monday, YKHC said it would stop all non-emergent operating room procedures to preserve its supply of personal protection equipment as well as protect staff and medical capacity. The procedure shut down will last for a month, YKCH said.

The YK Delta has some of the highest COVID-19 rates in the state with a total of 1,481 cases reported Sunday. The YKHC COVID-19 dashboard states 385 of those cases are active and infectious, 1,088 are recovered and eight people have died with COVID-19.

YKHC serves 38 communities in the region that have reported COVID-19 cases but has had to medevac 12 patients to a hospital outside of the region.

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