Alaska DHSS Gives a Response to Alaska ICU Capacity

This week, Alaska DHSS in the COVID-19 Case Count Summary has finally given an explanation for the inflated ICU capacity I reported on at the end of September. The takeaway? They’re working on it, which I and many others appreciate.

Of particular note is that the ICU capacity listed on the Coronavirus dashboard “no longer reflects inpatient and ICU beds available for adult patients,” which as a potential super-spreader event related to a hockey game unfolds, seems important for the public to know.

Today, Dr. Janet Johnson of the Anchorage Health Department said we have 65 occupied adult ICU beds out of a total of 78 staffed beds.

This significant removal of information from the dashboard is the result of Alaska hospitals transmitting their data to Trump’s Health & Human Services agency. Read more about it here.

For those of you who don’t know, I appreciate Dr. Anne Zink and her ‘no politics’ approach to the pandemic, but with that said, transparency, especially at a time when the Governor and his health officials are touting that hospital capacity is ‘fine’, is important. Americans have already heard the, “It’s Fine” speech from Donald Trump when we were told the Coronavirus had infected just one guy in China. We aren’t buying, “It’s Fine,” anymore.

The public has a right to know what’s going on with our state’s limited healthcare infrastructure, and it’s equally important to remember that Alaska regularly struggles with ICU capacity.

In a video recorded this evening, Dr. Zink said, “In Alaska, we run really tight on healthcare capacity at baseline.” (11:50 mark).

For now, the ICU bed numbers on the dashboard, in my opinion, are only worth something to COVID-19 deniers who have already begun taking screen-shots of the dashboard to post all over social media chanting, “See? We have lots of ICU beds!”

The Alaska DHSS Statement is Below:

“Due to a change in hospital reporting in late September, hospital data on the data hub no longer reflects inpatient and ICU beds available for adult patients. This change resulted in hospitals reporting infant beds, including infant ICU beds (NICU beds) in the total beds available, increasing the total number of beds counted.

However, since the beds newly added to the total do not reflect beds that can be used for adults or older children, the current method of hospital reporting is not as useful for determining the capacity in the state should an increased number of adults or older children require inpatient or critical care.

While DHSS is working towards a hospital data hub that better reflects the state’s real capacity to respond to increased COVID-19 hospitalizations, the current data is available on the data hub but should be viewed with these caveats in mind.

Additionally, hospital data includes inpatient beds and ventilators located all around the state, including some in smaller hospitals without ICU capacity. Hospital beds also do not necessarily represent staffed beds, as staffing can change quickly, particularly if a community has many health workers impacted by COVID-19.”