COVID Surge, visitation at FMH, alarming rates in Fairbanks, unvaccinated travel, COVID Roundtable discussion
COVID SURGE: FHP and the community are in the midst of a dangerous COVID surge. The number of COVID positive inpatients at FMH yesterday was higher than we have seen throughout the entire pandemic. These patients are younger (we have patients in their 20’s) much sicker and taking longer, sometimes 2-3 weeks in the hospital, to recover. This is worrisome for several reasons:
- The sicker the patients are, the greater the risk that they may not recover.
- A two-three week stay for patients limits the number of beds that are available for new patients. We are close to “divert” status based on lack of additional respiratory equipment. This means as new patients need to be admitted, for any kind of care (heart attack, broken leg, etc.), they will be assessed for our capacity to provide care to them and they might need to be medevac’d to an Anchorage or Seattle hospital. This creates a serious hardship for patients and families – it puts them in an unfamiliar environment for care, limits the support they can get from their friends and family, and it can be extremely expensive for the patient.
- Many COVID patients require high flow ventilation as a necessary treatment and we have a limited number of these oxygen delivery units. We are currently trying to get more, but they are in limited supply, so far we’ve not obtained any additional units.
Visitation Restrictions at FMH: Due to the fast spread and high numbers of COVID in the community, FMH has to strictly enforce visitation restrictions. (In early March we were able to allow more visitation because the COVID numbers in the community were under control.) These restrictions can be frustrating for everyone - patients, visitors, employees and the community. The Screeners at the public entrances take the brunt of the understandable frustration along with nursing staff who have to reset expectations with families. Please help your friends and family members understand the reasons behind the strict enforcement of restrictions. With the high COVID rates, limited high flow equipment, high number of hospitalized patients, and being close to divert status, we have to do everything we can to limit the risk to our patients and staff.
FAIRBANKS HAS ALARMING RATES: As a community, Fairbanks has highest rate of positive cases—more than any other region in the state. Additionally, the Interior has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the state. Last week, the Fairbanks North Star Borough was one of the top 10 counties/boroughs in the entire United States with the highest number of new COVID cases.
UNVACCINATED EMPLOYEES & TRAVEL: AS a reminder, the CDC updated its travel-related guidance last week. As a result of these changes, FHP has updated the return-to-work procedures and out-of-state travel instructions for employees. To learn more about the CDC recommendations, click here.
COVID Roundtable Discussion: Join leaders from across the Interior and community physicians for a conversation about COVID-19. Find out what can be done to get past the pandemic and back to business! By working together, we can restore our healthy, vibrant community, resume the activities we’ve missed and welcome friends, family and visitors for fun under our Midnight Sun. Learn with them and have your own questions answered too. Click here to register. The weekly COVID Roundtable Discussion is an ideal way to have your COVID-related questions answered by physicians. You can ask your question during the event, or you can submit them prior to the event.
The information provided in COVID Bites is intended to provide a brief overview of relevant COVID-19 content. There is a tremendous amount of COVID information (and misinformation) on the internet. Content is being added several times a week so check back regularly! For the most accurate and current information always use trusted and verified resources like www.CDC.gov and www.COVID-19.Alaska.gov.