Number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Alaska remains under 100 as Providence ends crisis care standards

Published: Nov. 30, 2021 at 9:22 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, but there may be a sign that things are improving as the number of hospitalizations from the virus continues to decline.

The total number of COVID-19 hospitalizations continues to stay below 100. For weeks during the peak of a prolonged COVID-19 case surge, hospitalizations remained above 200. Alaska hospitals have had to contend with that influx, and several of them began operating under crisis standards of care.

The state’s number of COVID-19 hospitalizations dropped below 100 last Wednesday. Alaska had reported a record high of 243 COVID-19 hospitalizations back on Oct. 27.

As of Tuesday, Alaska had a total of 82 COVID-19 patients who remained hospitalized, according to data from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services. Of those patients, nine are on a ventilator.

Providence Alaska Medical Center has 10 patients with the virus, the Alaska Native Medical Center said it also has 11 COVID-19 patients hospitalized. There were 20 reported at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. Alaska Regional Hospital and Central Peninsula Hospital did not report their numbers.

Meanwhile, Providence Alaska Medical Center confirmed on Tuesday it is no longer operating under crisis standards of care, according to spokesperson Mikal Canfield. The state’s largest hospital implemented crisis care standards back in September as its staff contended with a large influx of patients, exacerbated by additional COVID-19 patients.

“I do think it’s fair to recognize that, after a long stretch of operating at a level we’ve never operated at before for such a sustained amount of time, that we are in a place where it feels like a temporary reprieve,” said Jared Kosin, president and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association.

Kosin pointed out that while state hospitals are in a much better place today than they have been for some time, the drop in the number of COVID-19 patients does not reduce the burden on the hospitals.

He said many COVID-19 patients will require days, maybe even weeks of hospital care even if they are no longer considered infectious and no longer being included in the official hospitalization count.

Kosin also noted that the situation for individual hospitals can change at any moment. Smaller, more rural hospitals can still be experiencing a patient surge of their own, even if that doesn’t move the total number of COVID-19 positive patients very much, he said.

“Petersburg and Ketchikan ... over the last couple of weeks were really struggling with surges in their respective areas,” Kosin said. “So this thing can change at any moment.”

Even now, stabilizing the state hospital system will take some time, Kosin said.

“But to not have so much pressure coming through the front door has made an immense difference,” he said.

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