YKHC Activates Use of COVID-19 Clinical Guidelines

Effective September 29, 2021, YKHC activated its COVID-19 Clinical Guidelines, also known as Crisis Standards of Care.

Developed at the beginning of the pandemic in April 2020, these guidelines provide clinicians revised care standards when working under conventional, contingency, or crisis capacity, including the activation of a committee of physicians to help make clinical decisions. Currently operating at-capacity, YKHC’s capacity is highly fluid and can change day-to-day or hour-by-hour depending on the number of admitted patients, their acuity, or availability of resources at referring hospitals.   

When operating at contingency or crisis capacity, local impacts may result in delayed transfer to a referring hospital, expanded nurse ratios, longer wait times for elective procedures (such as colonoscopy cancer screening, pediatric dental procedures, and elective postpartum procedures) and numerous other impacts. Decisions about continuing these types of elective procedures are assessed and made on a weekly or daily basis.

“Every day we are optimizing patient resources to provide the best level of care that we can at that time,” said Chief of Staff Dr. Ellen Hodges. “We’re doing the best for every single patient, regardless of what resources are available at any given time. Unfortunately, however, as a result of the current surge in COVID-19 cases requiring hospitalization and limited resources statewide, we are now in a position of making these difficult decisions on a daily basis.”

“YKHC has done everything in our power to delay the activation of these guidelines,” said President & CEO Dan Winkelman. “We urge every resident of the Yukon-Kuskokwim region to get vaccinated, wear a mask in indoor public areas, and social distance. With our hospital and our referral hospitals at capacity, this is our last stand against this virus.” 

“It is a call-to-action that we need to practice stronger community mitigation measures, in order to relieve stress on the Bethel hospital and our Anchorage referral hospitals in order to save lives and get us back to normal,” Winkelman continued. “I encourage all tribes and cities to seek legal and financial advice to enact financial incentives for eligible unvaccinated individuals to receive their first shot as President Joe Biden suggested. I also encourage all employers and schools to demonstrate leadership to help end this pandemic and develop their own vaccination programs with an FDA licensed and fully authorized COVID-19 vaccine. We can and must do more.”

The COVID-19 Clinical Guidelines are regularly reviewed and updated, most recently updated this week. Many of YKHC’s referring hospitals in Anchorage and statewide continue to operate at-capacity.

YKHC strongly encourages all people 12 years and older to get vaccinated against COVID-19. To schedule an appointment or learn more about the vaccine, visit https://www.ykhc.org/covid-19/vaccine/.

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