Alaska enacts crisis standards of care

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services activated crisis standards of care Sept. 22 for hospitals in the state.

The crisis standards of care were activated through an addendum to the existing public health emergency order because hospitals are facing staffing strain and other overwhelming circumstances amid the latest COVID-19 pandemic wave, according to a news release from Gov. Mike Dunleavy's office. 

"Our healthcare professionals are accustomed to providing the best care they possibly can for their patients, but resources are now stretched to a point that most of us never expected to see in our careers," said Anne Zink, MD, Alaska's chief medical officer. "Difficult decisions will need to be made over whose care should be prioritized, and we're here to support our providers to provide the best care for as many patients as possible during these challenging times."

Activating crisis standards of care gives healthcare providers a framework to use to make patient care decisions during the pandemic. Hospitals will still make patient decisions according to their policies and available resources, with the ability to implement crisis standards of care as needed.

The crisis standards of care were activated across Alaska after Anchorage-based Providence Alaska Medical Center, the state's largest hospital, announced Sept. 14 that it would implement crisis standards of care.

Over the last couple weeks, new daily COVID-19 hospitalization rates have increased 16 percent in the state, according to data tracked by The New York Times.  

Mr. Dunleavy's office said hundreds of medical workers, including nearly 300 registered nurses and more than 100 certified nursing assistants or patient care technicians, are slated to arrive in Alaska to assist healthcare facilities, under an $87 million contract between the state and the federal General Services Administration. The first workers are expected to arrive in Alaska the week of Sept. 26.

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