Emergency rooms open, non-critical appointments canceled at Anchorage area hospitals

Damage from the earthquake on a staircase at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage on Nov. 30, 2018. (Photo courtesy of Kjerstin Lastufka.)

Anchorage emergency departments were open today, and all three major Anchorage facilities said they received patients with earthquake-related injuries.

“Seventy-five percent of the patients that have come through today have been earthquake related,” said Alaska Regional Hospital CEO Julie Taylor. “But they’ve been very minor in nature. Lots of cuts, bruises, bumps that type of thing. From people tripping and falling when power was out, or stepping on broken glass.”

Providence Alaska Medical Center reported that their emergency department saw a normal volume of patients, including a few with earthquake-related injuries.

Alaska Native Medical Center also said they treated a handful of patients with very minor earthquake injuries.

All three canceled elective surgeries and non-emergency appointments.

Tom Cox from Fairbanks was at Alaska Regional Hospital in Anchorage in the waiting room as his wife was undergoing foot surgery when the earthquake began.

“Ceiling tiles fell down, some water lines broke,” he said. “Some people started to panic and stuff. The nurses were all great. They came out and checked on everybody. Tried to stay calm.”

He said he was asked to evacuate out the emergency room exit. The surgeons were able to finish his wife’s surgery, and he said he was getting regular updates from staff.

‘The nurses and the doctors were right on time. They were spot perfect. It helps everybody,” he said. “I come from a military background so I’m used to chaos and stuff but they took control. They kept all the family members calm and safe. That’s the important thing.”

Alaska Regional Hospital incurred some visible damage, the CEO said, but they’re still assessing whether there was any significant structural damage. There are water leaks around the building.

“If water leaks from a pipe and bursts all over your sterile supplies, it makes it harder to do procedures,” Taylor said. “So it’s that kind of damage that I think isn’t as visible as you’re walking down hallways but it is significantly behind the scenes.”

Taylor says that no patients or staff were injured. Patients who are in the facility are still being cared for.

She recommends that people call before going to appointments on Monday to make sure they can be seen.

 

Ravenna Koenig contributed to this report.