Alaska crisis standards now active for 20 healthcare facilities

Alaska has activated crisis standards of care for 20 healthcare facilities across the state.

The state's crisis standards of care were activated Oct. 2 because of "the current surge in COVID-19 cases and a shortage of resources within some hospitals," according to a news release from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

This action was taken after the state's Crisis Care Committee requested it be activated.

"This activation was requested by the Crisis Care Committee so our healthcare providers could continue to provide the best medical care possible for Alaskans under good faith immunity," said Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Commissioner Adam Crum. "The availability of resources and staff changes daily within these facilities. The state's Patient Care Strategies for Scarce Resource Situations, which includes decision-making guidance for implementing crisis standards of care, is now available to these facilities should they need them. I want to stress that our healthcare facilities in Alaska remain open and able to care for patients. Alaskans who need medical care should not delay seeking it, even during these difficult times."

Crisis standards of care give healthcare providers a framework to use to make patient care decisions during a disaster or public health emergency like the pandemic.

Some Alaska facilities such as Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corp. in Bethel and Anchorage-based Providence Alaska Medical Center had previously enacted their own crisis standards of care after the Alaska officials enabled the standards statewide Sept. 22 through an addendum to the existing public health emergency order. State officials gave healthcare providers a framework to use to make patient care decisions during the pandemic while allowing hospitals to make patient decisions according to their policies and available resources.

On Oct. 2, the activation of crisis standards of care was requested by the state's Crisis Care Committee for Yukon and Providence Alaska Medical Center, as well as 18 other facilities, including Alaska Native Medical Center, Alaska Regional Hospital and Bartlett Regional Hospital.

State officials said factors leading to the activation include scarce medical resources within some facilities and limited healthcare staff as well as the difficulty of transferring patients to other medical facilities because of limited bed availability.

Read the full list of facilities where state crisis standards of care were activated here.

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