Overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 patients, Alaska's largest hospital implemented crisis standards of care, prioritizing resources and treatments to those patients who have the potential to benefit the most.
"While we are doing our utmost, we are no longer able to provide the standard of care to each and every patient who needs our help," Dr. Kristen Solana Walkinshaw, chief of staff at Providence Alaska Medical Center, wrote in a letter addressed to Alaskans distributed Tuesday.
"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," Walkinshaw wrote.
Alaska, like many places across the country, has seen a surge in coronavirus cases driven by the highly contagious delta variant. Idaho activated crisis standards of care in the northern part of the state last week because of a "severe shortage of staffing and available beds" along with "a massive increase in patients with COVID-19 who require hospitalization," the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said.
Multiple states have warned about implementing those crisis standards due to hospitals and ICUs nearing capacity. Those standards mean hospitals with too many patients and not enough staff likely will need to triage patients, prioritizing care to those most likely to benefit when demand outstrips resources.
Also in the news:
►New York City is investigating a potential COVID-19 outbreak linked to the Electric Zoo Music Festival over Labor Day weekend, according to the city's health department.
►Texas health data showed that the number of hospital patients for COVID-19 in the state continues to decline, despite seeing thousands of new cases every day.
►New Mexico is extending its mask mandate for indoor public settings at least through mid-October as state health officials reported hopeful developments in daily cases, testing and hospitalizations.
►The U.S. will make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for new immigrants starting Oct. 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced Tuesday.
????Today's numbers: The U.S. has recorded more than 41 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 666,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Global totals: More than 226 million cases and 4.6 million deaths. More than 179 million Americans - 54% of the population - have been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
????What we're reading: As more people survive COVID-19 infections yet continue to suffer, health care has begun to respond with multidisciplinary clinics that connect patients with a range of experts. They work together to devise a plan, operating without a playbook because treatment guidelines have yet to be written. Read more here.