Healthcare System impacts due to the Coronavirus pandemic

 Healthcare industry impacts across Alaska due to Covid-19.
Healthcare industry impacts across Alaska due to Covid-19. (KTUU)
Published: Jun. 19, 2020 at 7:40 AM AKDT
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Healthcare as we know it has changed. In Alaska, hospitals prepared for an influx of Covid-19 cases, but the reality is, many are now sitting empty and that translates to not only loss of dollars, but limited staff. From the very first confirmed Covid-19 case in the state, hospitals across Alaska were prepared for the worst.

"I know our hospitals and facilities were really aggressive in trying to re-purpose staff and create new positions," said Jared Kosin, President & CEO of ASHNHA.

Virtual visits increased, surgeries came to a halt and all outpatient services pretty much stopped overnight.

"We put all this effort into building this capacity and then all of a sudden after a month, we realized our hospitals had been completely empty," said Kosin.

"It's millions of dollars on cost on top of no reimbursement on procedures that have been delayed so that's a big part of the recovery," added Alaska Regional Hospital CEO, Julie Taylor.

At the height of the pandemic, Alaska Regional Medical Director and ER Physician Dr. David Scordino said emergency room admissions were down more than 30 percent.

"I want people to know that we're doing everything we can to make it so you shouldn't be afraid to come to see a doctor," he said.

Which means, people who are sick, aren't going to the hospital for care.

"It's just kind of a new world we're trying to figure out every single day," said Kosin.

As far as staff, fewer patients means fewer jobs.

"Yes, unfortunately we've seen different furloughs, we've seen executive pay cuts, different things that are impacting the industry for sure," said Kosin.

"I know there's anxiety about what that's going to look like and we are giving them as much information as we can along the way and being completely transparent," added Taylor.

If a second wave of Covid-19 does hit Alaska, the state's healthcare system is ready to respond, but as it has the first go round, that could cost.

Providence Alaska Medical Center saw about a 40 percent decline in emergency room visits starting in late March and approximately 800 surgeries and other procedures were postponed as a result of the pandemic.

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