Alaska Native Medical Center third hospital to move to crisis standards for care

A sign that says Alaska Native Medical Center
The Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. (Joey Mendolia/Alaska Public Media)

The Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage said Friday it has begun operating under crisis standards for care. 

ANMC is the third hospital in the state to move to crisis operations, which allow doctors to prioritize resources and treatments to patients who have the greatest potential to benefit. Providence Alaska Medical Center and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation are also operating under crisis standards.

ANMC Administrator Bob Onders said the standards don’t affect who is getting care or supplies like oxygen or dialysis machines at this point. 

“We’re not in that place right now,” he said. “Right now, from our standpoint, the crisis standards of care more allow for flexibility so that we can maintain clinical care.”

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Onders said the standards allow the hospital flexibility with certain normal operating rules and the state’s crisis standards relax ANMC’s liability. 

He said the hospital had been moving toward this point for weeks. 

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“We have been working, I’d say, at contingency levels for a prolonged period of time. And as you work in that contingency area, you’re always at risk of having to make decisions that you would make outside of normal operation,” he said.

Onders said that while the current crisis standards won’t affect the care that anyone is getting, that could change if hospitalizations keep rising.

The news comes as ANMC welcomed dozens of new medical workers and support staff, including a 35-person FEMA team based in Massachusetts. 

This story has been corrected. Bob Onders’ title is administrator, not medical director.

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