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Alaska’s COVID-19 hospitalization was a record high. Here’s what that number actually reflects:

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The state reports that the record number of COVID-19 hospitalizations continues to grow as hospitals in Alaska work on health care systems under staff shortages, capacity constraints, and severe burdens. ..

However, their aggregation is complicated. They include people who may have been hospitalized for something else and tested positive for the virus, but also exclude people who have been hospitalized for COVID-19 and are no longer infectious.

Dr. Annezink, Alaska’s Chief Medical Officer, said in an interview on Friday that all of this makes it difficult to identify the true burden placed on a healthcare facility using a single number.

“From a state perspective, I don’t think it’s really overvalued. It’s not undervalued,” Zink said. “This is the only data we can report, as it is the only data we have.”

State hospitalization data also does not include visits to emergency rooms, another way to quantify hospital burdens. This is because it is considered an outpatient visit.

The virus hospitalizations recorded on the state’s online dashboard are from hospitals that report to federal databases, and that information is extracted by the state’s public health authorities.

While testifying in front of the House Health and Social Services Commission last week, Zink said the total number of hospitalizations reported on the state’s COVID-19 dashboard represents everyone infected with the virus in Alaska hospitals. He told legislators that it was likely not.

“For example, for people in their thirties who are hospitalized, they can get infected during the first 10 or 15 days,” Zink said. “But they may require a month or two of hospitalization, which is an ongoing burden on the hospital and is not reflected in the overall number of dashboards.”

Other patients may not be reflected in the dashboard, Zink said. According to Zink, some patients may begin to recover, experience complications such as heart attacks and strokes, and be hospitalized for treatment instead. It is not always displayed in the state data.

If COVID-positive asymptomatic individuals are admitted to the hospital for other reasons, such as delivery, those patients still have more work to do for hospital staff and require more resources. Staff need to wear gowns and patients need a single room.

Asymptomatic patients can also get sick during hospitalization, and they may experience complications later from being asymptomatic when the test is positive, Zink said. Stated.

Generally speaking, health officials say that when a patient is no longer positive for COVID-19, it will no longer count towards the total number of hospitalizations. However, while the symptoms persist, they may still be in the hospital bed, require acute care and affect their abilities.

However, there are several ways to report hospitalization with COVID-19.

Based on responses from various Alaskan hospitals this week, some report all COVID-19-related hospitalizations, while others report only active cases.

Providence Alaska Medical Center, Alaska’s largest hospital, reports only active COVID-19 cases in hospital admissions. According to Mikal Canfield, a spokesman for Providence Alaska, people who are no longer infected with the disease but need hospital treatment are not included.

On Wednesday, 50 were considered active COVID-19 patients in Providence, but the other 22 were not included in the number of cases because they were considered “recovered” rather than infectious. ..

“This does not necessarily indicate that the patients are doing well, but that they are no longer considered infectious,” he wrote.

Similarly, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital reported only active COVID-19 cases, 24 cases as of this week, but no patients were hospitalized beyond the infection period.

The COVID-19 hospitalizations on the state dashboard do not necessarily accurately describe who may be hospitalized for illness at Matt Sue Regional Hospital, according to spokesman Alan Craft. This is because, like other institutions, patients who have been hospitalized for a long time with COVID-19 may not appear in these numbers after being reclassified.

Patients who test positive for COVID-19 are usually reported as hospitalized at the Alaska Native Medical Center, but even if they are still hospitalized, based on symptoms and other US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines. It may be excluded from that aggregation. .. Robert Onders of the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.

However, at Anchorage’s Alaska Regional, spokeswoman Kjerstin Lastufka said the number of COVID positives included all patients who needed virus-related care until discharge.

“The number reported in the state is for both patients in the acute phase of COVID-19 care and those who are still recovering from COVID-19 (patients who have passed the infection period but are still hospitalized). Includes “Lastufka emailed.

An official at Bartlett Regional Hospital in Juneau reported admission to the new COVID-19 during the period of infection and said that in some cases, depending on the severity of admission, the period of infection could be extended to 20 days.

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