With the hospital system in Anchorage straining against an ever-rising caseload of COVID patients, its left communities in rural Alaska wondering how much of the burden their local hospital systems can handle. Fortunately for Kodiak, the Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center is confident that it can rise to the challenge. Administrator for the facility Karl Hertz explains why.
“I think the most in December we had at one time were eight positive COVID patients on the floor. And so that’s quite a few for us to care for here in Kodiak and be able to do that. I think we’ll just continue to care for as many patients as we need to care for, we can always change our game plan here and expand the hospital to care for COVID patients as needed. And then in doing that, of course, we would have to decrease some of the other services, I would say, once we get to the way our inpatient floor is set up, it’s set up in pods, and there’s four patient rooms per pod. And so, you know, once we have a COVID, pod of four, once we spill over that into having to open another pot up for COVID, specific care, then then we’re going to have to talk about cutting down some of our other normal services so that we can shift staff to care for COVID patients,” Hertz said.
Hertz also provided insight into how the facility makes decisions on what patients to send to the mainland for treatment.
“If the COVID positive patient, or any patient for that matter, is in declining health, meaning that they’re getting worse than getting better, that’s when we determine that it’s time to transfer to a larger facility that has additional resources. And I really think that’s what it comes down to is resources. Of course, in the larger communities, they’re going to have different specialists, they’re going to have more staffing, they’re going to have different expertise than we have in Kodiak. As long as we can manage patients here safely on the island, and they’re getting better or not getting worse than then we’re able to care for him here, and we think it’s better for him to stay here locally. If they begin to decline, then we need to get them to a higher level of care,” Hertz said.
Hertz went on to say that even if the Anchorage hospital system were to rise to capacity, the medical center often has to care for patients in serious condition locally due to the weather.