Providence Alaska Medical Center Implements “Crisis Standards of Care.”

A letter obtained by The Blue Alaskan, signed by Dr. Kristen Solana Walkinshaw, Providence’s Chief of Staff, states that Providence Alaska Medical Center has instituted “crisis standards of care.”

The letter was created and drafted by the Medical Executive Committee at Providence. Providence spokesperson Mikal Canfield confirmed the details in an email and provided me with the signed letter.

The letter says that healthcare workers are no longer able to provide the standard of care to each and every patient who needs help.

“The acuity and number of patients now exceeds our resources and our ability to staff beds with skilled caregivers, like nurses and respiratory therapists. We have been forced within our hospital to implement crisis standards of care,” states the letter to the community.

Related: ‘Thoughts & Prayers,’ a Florida Tragedy Unfolds in Alaska

Crisis standards of care (CSC) is when health care systems are so overwhelmed by a pervasive or catastrophic public health event it is impossible for them to provide the normal, or standard, level of care to patients.

According to the letter, more than 30% of adult patients hospitalized at Providence have tested positive for COVID-19. Healthcare workers are now prioritizing scarce resources and treatments for those patients who have the potential to benefit the most.

The Medical Executive Committee at Providence is asking the public to wear a mask, even if vaccinated, to stay at home and get tested if individuals have been sick or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19 and if elegible, to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated, the letter says, is the “single most important thing you can do to help your community and the healthcare system.”

Healthcare officials have been sounding the alarm for weeks that without direct intervention and the implementation of COVID-19 mitigation strategies designed to slow the volume of patients frequenting Anchorage hospitals, the city faced a potential collapse of its healthcare system.

On August 21, Anchorage Infectious Disease Expert Dr. Clancy told the Anchorage Assembly that she goes home with a little bit of panic each day.

“We either need to choose to do something on a community level to slow down the volume in the hospital, or we’re really choosing healthcare collapse in this city,” Dr. Clancy said.

Listen: Dr. Megan Clancy on potential healthcare collapse.

Anchorage Mayor David Bronson, backed by the “Save Anchorage” Facebook group, has steadfastly refused to implement any mandated measures to keep city residents safe and many residents believe the mayor is capitulating to the demands of those who supported him during the mayoral election and is not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously.

Many of the mayor’s supporters have verbally attacked healthcare workers online and spread misinformation about mask-wearing and vaccinations, often referring to the pandemic as a “hoax.” Bronson’s supporters have decried mandated mask-wearing as “tyranny” and “government overreach.”

Assemblymembers Meg Zaletel and Pete Petersen will introduce a resolution at tonight’s assembly meeting — once again asking Mayor Bronson to direct that masks or face coverings be required in public indoor areas of Municipal buildings, and to promote COVID mitigation measures when the Municipality of Anchorage is at substantial or high alert levels for community transmission of COVID-19.

It’s not clear if the mayor, who has questioned whether there ever was a pandemic, will be moved by Providence’s news that the crisis healthcare officials have been warning about for weeks has finally arrived.

This is a developing story and will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

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