An Update from YKHC’s President & CEO on COVID-19 Response Planning


For several weeks, YKHC has prepared our staff, facilities and communities for COVID-19. Our staff have received education and drilled for treating potential COVID-19 patients. We have added significantly more beds in the hospital and secured additional facilities through our partners for patients needing isolation and other uses. 

YKHC has also provided our communities constant communication and education via our website at, social media, email, weekly teleconferences with tribes and partners, radio interviews, and public service announcements on KCUK, KEDI, KICY, KSKO, and KYUK.

Mandatory staff health screenings began in mid-March; staff have trained on the proper usage of personal protective equipment (PPE); health aides have trained to test for COVID-19 in villages; and we have plans to increase testing and perform contact tracing in villages. 

All villages should be proactive and designate a suitable facility where people with COVID-19 can isolate if their home is small and has elders or others with serious health conditions. I strongly encourage tribal governments to designate a representative to attend our weekly teleconferences to ask questions and receive guidance on COVID-19 preparations. In any given week, only a quarter of our 50 villages participate. Tribes should email to receive an invitation.

We significantly expanded our surge capacity.  The hospital expanded our inpatient capacity from 26 to 45 beds. Further, we have added eight new beds dedicated for higher acuity patients. Patients with respiratory illness have been separated from all other patients. 

Drive-thru COVID-19 testing is available in Bethel. As of April 1, we tested more than 40 people for COVID-19 from Bethel and villages with zero positive tests. Several results are pending.

Lastly, we continue to work with our community and government partners to prepare external care sites that will be ready, if needed.

For over two months we have prepared for COVID-19. Although we order more PPE each and every day, if we encounter a large surge of COVID-19 patients we do not have enough PPE due to global shortages and rationing by manufacturers.

We are also severely challenged by living in a remote area with 50 villages with no road access to the hospital. If a large surge happens simultaneously in numerous villages, our health system will be overwhelmed. 

Moreover, under this worst case scenario, and even with National Guard support, there will likely not be enough timely medevacs for all patients. This is precisely why a no travel mandate for nonessential business in rural Alaska is so very important. 

All of us are more vulnerable due to our remoteness and lack of widespread, rapid testing. For these reasons, please take the mandate seriously, practice social distancing and good hand hygiene . . . our health depends on it. 


Dan Winkelman

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1 thought on “An Update from YKHC’s President & CEO on COVID-19 Response Planning”

  1. Beverly A Hoffman

    Quyana Dan and staff, appreciate all that YKHC is doing. Holding employees and staff close to my heart everyday!

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COVID-19: Call Before Seeking Care

If you have symptoms like a fever, cough or shortness of breath, do not go to your village clinic and do not go to the Emergency Room in Bethel. Instead, call your village clinic, or in Bethel, call 543-6949.

Contact YKHC


Box 528, Bethel, Alaska 99559

Phone: 907-543-6000
YKHC Medicaid Travel: 907-543-6625
Media Inquiries:


myYKHealth is an online portal that allows our customers to view medical information and connect with their care team.

To enroll in MyYKHealth or if you have questions about MyYKHealth, call MyYKHealth Enrollment Specialist at 907-543-6947 or Registration at 907-543-6315 or email


Visit the Resource Library to view issues of the Messenger, YKHC publications, provider resources, referral forms, financial statements, retail store and release forms.

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Bethel or a cell phone:

Landline or phone outside Bethel:
1-800-478-3321 ext 6442



Aniak     675-4556
Emmonak     949-3500 
Hooper Bay     758-3500
St. Mary’s      438-3500 
Toksook Bay    427-3500 

In order to ensure we offer timely appointments to all of our patients, we ask customers to register 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment time. If you are unable to keep or make your appointment, please call YKHC Scheduling to cancel or reschedule.