As COVID-19 cases surge, Juneau’s hospital again suspends non-urgent surgeries

A storage rack full of bags for individuals nurses and doctors to track and reuse personal protective equipment shown here on April 7, 2020, at Bartlett Hospital, in Juneau, Alaska. (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)
A storage rack full of bags for individuals nurses and doctors to track and reuse personal protective equipment shown here on April 7, 2020, at Bartlett Hospital, in Juneau.  (Photo by Rashah McChesney/KTOO)

As hospitals throughout the Pacific Northwest struggle to house and transfer patients, Bartlett Regional Hospital is suspending “non-urgent” procedures. 

The move is in response to the current surge of COVID-19 cases requiring hospital treatment, according to a media release. Juneau is averaging more than 17 new cases a day this month. 

In August alone, three people died of COVID-19 at the hospital, and there has been a steady stream of patients who need hospital treatment due to the virus. 

Bartlett is also having difficulty filling positions, according to a report from Juneau’s Emergency Operations Center.

On Friday, the hospital announced that it is changing its policy for visitors. People admitted to the hospital can have two visitors. People who are receiving outpatient care can have one. Obstetrics patients can have two visitors. No one is allowed to visit people in the Emergency Department unless certain criteria are met. 

This is the second time over the course of the pandemic that the hospital has suspended elective procedures. The first time, state public health authorities asked hospitals to do it because of Alaska’s limited healthcare capacity. 

In an updated media release, hospital leadership say they are evaluating all surgery with post-operation hospital stays to determine how urgent they are, then they’ll suspend the ones that are less-urgent.  They’ll make certain exceptions and re-evaluate the suspension once a week, according to the release.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect Bartlett Regional Hospital’s revised policy on non-urgent procedures.

Rashah McChesney

Daily News Editor, KTOO

I help the newsroom establish daily news priorities and do hands-on editing to ensure a steady stream of breaking and enterprise news for a local and regional audience.

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