Homer sees slight increase in COVID-19 patients

Home testing makes trend hard to track, but hospital reports uptick in patients seeking treatment for COVID-19

In public settings and conversations in the community, people are anecdotally reporting a recent rise in COVID-19 cases. The difficulty in confirming this, according to Derotha Ferraro, director of public relations at South Peninsula Hospital, is that most people use at-home test kits.

What Ferraro did share by email is that South Peninsula Hospital has seen an uptick in people seeking treatment for COVID-19.

“Since June 11, we’ve seen 14 Emergency Room visits for COVID-19 (of a total 306 visits), and two hospitalizations for COVID,” Ferraro wrote. “The clinics have also seen additional activity in June, and we’ve seen a slight increase in employee absences related to COVID over the last few weeks.”

The SPH front desk has also seen an increase in demand for home tests. They provided 60 boxes on Monday and Tuesday last week.

Free home tests are offered 24/7 at the hospital’s main entrance waiting room. Homer Medical Center and SPH Family Care Clinic also offer COVID-19 testing by appointment for those experiencing illness or symptoms.

COVID-19 testing is available at the hospital’s laboratory through the self-referral program “Request-A-Test.” This service is for self-pay only, with insurance not billed, and will cost only $50. In addition to a single COVID-19 test, a respiratory four-plex test for Influenza-A, Influenza-B, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and COVID-19 is offered. Call the laboratory and request a “Request a Test” information and appointment at 907-235-0338.

Information on general trends in the state of Alaska can be found on the COVID-19 Cases Dashboard on the internet at https://experience.arcgis.com/experience/af2efc8bffbf4cdc83c2d1a134354074/. Information on this webpage is provided by the Alaska Department of Health, Division of Public Health. As of June 6, the website is only updated on a monthly basis. The next update will take place on July 11.

Lorne Carroll, public health nurse in Homer, did not report any increase in case numbers from his office and provided information on several websites showing that case numbers remain down and people are receiving fewer booster vaccinations.