Jared Kosin. (Photo credit Michael Penn)

Jared Kosin. (Photo credit Michael Penn)

Point of View: Are We Okay? A Message from Alaska’s Hospitals and Nursing Homes on COVID-19

Over the past month, decision makers, stakeholders, and media have routinely inquired about “hospital capacity” in light of increasing COVID-19 case counts. The real question being asked is “are we okay?” The Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association has been answeringthis question as any hospital would: we look at our daily census report (patients in a hospitalbed), consider any relevant variables, and comment where we stand with capacity at the given moment.

The good news is capacity has been strong and intact. In general, ICU capacity is consistentlyopen, vent utilization is low, and medical/surgical occupancy is very manageable. However, does this really answer the question “are we okay?”

Hospital capacity is crucial, but it is finite and a lagging indicator for where we as a public stand with COVID-19. We had 116 new cases yesterday, 78 the day prior, and 55 before that. A lot has changed from just one month ago when it was concerning to see 20 positive cases in a day.

So, are we okay? The answer is no. Simple math dictates where this all leads. We have seen this play out in Florida, Arizona, Texas, New York, and the list goes on. There is a direct correlation between positive case counts in a community and the risk for nursing home outbreaks. Unchecked case counts will lead to increased hospitalizations and deaths, and we will be brought to a breaking point.

Yes, we have hospital beds open, and we have surge plans ready to deploy. However, our health care heroes are not immune to COVID. If our frontline caretakers get infected, which they will, we could build hundreds of hospitals overnight and it will not make a difference.

COVID-19 is exhausting and we all wish it would go away, and no one wants to go back into lockdown. Unfortunately, rapidly increasing case counts and basic math tell us we are headed right back to lockdown if we do not change. If you want to avoid this, wear a mask, limit your contact, stop participating in large gatherings, and move away from unsafe activities.

Hospital capacity is intact for today, but unless we change the way we handle this as a people, it won’t be tomorrow.

Jared Kosin, J.D., M.B.A., is the President and CEO of the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association (ASHNHA). Kosin is an attorney with an MBA and extensive experience in health care and public policy. ASHNHA represents more than 65 hospitals, nursing homes, and other healthcare organizations who employ over 10,000 Alaskans. Its membership spans geographically from PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center to Samuel Simmonds Memorial Hospital in Utqiagvik.

More in Opinion

Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships. (Logo provided)
Point of View: Land acknowledgment works toward racial justice

From Uzintun to lands north of Niqnalchint, Indigenous place names honor First Peoples

Point of view
Point of View: Walking the talk on responsible energy development

Sen. Josh Revak, R-Anchorage, recently stated in an op-ed, “Alaska has and… Continue reading

Nina Faust
Point of View: Celebrate Citizen Science Month with Crane Watch

April is Citizen Science Month, an opportunity for people to get involved… Continue reading

Michael O'Meara's cartoon for April 8, 2021.
Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor, I read in last week’s letters to the editor that… Continue reading

Michael O'Meara's cartoon for April 1, 2021.
Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor, It only took three clerks to keep our local Division… Continue reading

Michael O'Meara's cartoon for March 25, 2021.
Letters to the Editor

Dear Homer Community, On behalf of McNeil Canyon Elementary school, staff and… Continue reading

Peter Zuyus
Point of View: HB 137 supports Alaska rural communities like Homer

House Bill 137 was introduced by Rep. Zack Fields. The bill will… Continue reading

Point of view
Point of View: Take it for Team Alaska

It was a highly contagious germ that existed since the beginning of… Continue reading

The Homer Foundation logo.
Point of View: One year later

“In like a lion, out like a lamb” is how we like… Continue reading

Most Read