Alaska hospitals overwhelmed with COVID

Aug 30, 2021

Credit Sabine Poux/KDLL

Central Peninsula Hospital sends some of its worst trauma cases up to Anchorage.

The hospital is still sending some patients on a case-by-case basis, hospital spokesperson Bruce Richards said. But as Anchorage facilities are filling up, it’s getting harder to find beds.

“They have to be worst-case scenarios, at this point," Richards said. "That’s what I’m understanding from our folks here.”

Hospitals all over Alaska are full.

Anchorage hospitals, in particular, are rescheduling procedures due to COVID strain and dealing with staff shortages.

Richards said the next option for Central Peninsula Hospital, if necessary, is to send patients Outside.

“And once you exhaust your resources in Anchorage, to the tertiary care hospital there, then you start calling Seattle," he said.

Otherwise, he said the hospital is dealing with cases it wouldn’t normally see in house.

And several weeks ago, the hospital took its own transfer patient, from Nome, due to lack of space in Anchorage.

Richards said, at this point, Central Peninsula Hospital is at max capacity and couldn’t take anyone new from another part of the state.

"We're accepting patients here, locally, but we certainly wouldn't take a transfer in from out of the area," Richards said.

Those who do come in, he says, might have to wait longer than they’re used to.

The hospital is doubling up patients in rooms and currently has more people in the emergency department than it has beds, as its COVID-19 numbers peak.

Richards echoed sentiments made Thursday by Alaska Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anne Zink, who encouraged people to consider going to a primary or urgent care clinic before the hospital for a minor injury.

The best defense against ending up in the hospital for  COVID-19, Richards said, is still to get vaccinated.