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Kodiak hospital unprepared for COVID-19 cases, confidential source alleges

According to a confidential source, a planned influx of hundreds of seasonal cannery workers to Kodiak has prompted serious concern among some Providence Kodiak staff that a COVID-19 outbreak could quickly overwhelm the hospital’s capacity.

Commercial fishery operations, including canneries, have been deemed “essential” by the State of Alaska and are excluded from orders that have shuttered many other businesses. Kodiak’s Ocean Beauty Seafoods and other cannery operators have recruited nationally to fill hundreds of seasonal positions. According to the source, some recruiting has targeted West Coast communities especially hard-hit by COVID-19. Cannery workers will not be tested for COVID-19 unless they present symptoms, and will live and work in close quarters. Research indicates that a significant proportion of COVID-19 carriers do not present symptoms, and are often unaware that they carry the virus. Questions have also been raised about the accuracy of many COVID-19 tests.

According to the source, Providence Kodiak has only six ventilators and two ICU beds, and the hospital’s supply of sedatives is only sufficient to accommodate two patients for two weeks. Almost all patients on a ventilator must be sedated in order to avoid a panic response that can cause high pulmonary pressure and severe medical complications. Moreover, the source told the Landmine, medevac services are limited or unavailable in some parts of Kodiak island, and some providers of medical evacuations have stated that they will not transport suspected COVID-19 patients due to concerns for pilot safety.

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A March 23 press release by Ocean Beauty Seafoods describes additional safety measures at the company, and states that “the focus of our reactive plan is to protect against employee exposure while ensuring an uninterrupted supply of our goods and services.”

The situation on Kodiak mirrors those in many coastal communities around Alaska, where highly seasonal economies depend on huge influxes of seasonal workers. Though many Alaska seafood processors have promised to enact new safety procedures, it is unclear whether a significant outbreak in a commercial facility could be identified or contained in time to prevent it from spreading to a nearby community. As Craig Medred reported in an April 10 article, some meat and salmon-processing facilities in the lower 48 have been sites of significant COVID-19 outbreaks.

Kodiak reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on April 15.

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Non of your business
1 month ago

There is medevac capability to every village how do you think Kodiak deals with just normal injuries And illness. there is also a medevac plane in Kodiak that can fly direct to amchorageMost cannery workers are under the age of 40. IF there were cases that needed a ventilator most have been for elderly that should be sheltering in place at home not working at a cannery. People need Food!!

1 month ago

Did you read the article?? Medevac “capability” doesn’t matter if the planes won’t pick someone up bc they can’t protect their pilots. And the danger isn’t so much that the cannery workers will need to be on a ventilator, it’s that a big outbreak would be impossible to control. For some of us here, getting through the pandemic and not having a huge outbreak here is a little more improtant than OBS’s profit from one season.

Non of your business
1 month ago
Reply to  Kodiakker

There is a System in place with air services to fly sick people. There saying that its due to the number of ventilators basically saying they cant care for to many patients. That’s a problem but it would be a problem if a bus crashed as not Enough staff ,beds blood etc. the problem with Kodiak is not covid-19 new it’s been that way for years. The virus IS impossible to control anyways. Its already here and has probably been for a while. Once you shut a system down you can’t restart It next year. And it’s essential doesn’t matter… Read more »

1 month ago
Reply to  Kodiakker

And just yesterday the coast guard said they can medevac any patient on Kodiak. Geez get your facts straight!!!

Concerned Citizen
1 month ago

Live in kodiak and noticed over the years a lot of people that worked in kodiak fish plant have moved do to lack of work do to fish plants favoring the worker they bring from out of state and bumping down the loyal local worker there is something unfair going on in them fish plants and needs investagation on how they treat the locals and workers from out of state.

1 month ago

Yea. They have 3 respirators. Up from one 2 weeks ago.

1 month ago

Talked to a realtive who lives in Kodiak about this article. Wanted to let everyone know Kodiak does have a very small rural hospital but their emergency response team has a multi bed Covid-19 hospital ward at one of the elementary schools. Residents are not too worried. They feel that they are better off than bigger cities with more cases.

Kodiak resident
1 month ago
Reply to  Julie

As a resident, I can tell you the residents are very worried about outsiders coming in. I haven’t heard one single person say they think outsiders should be allowed in. Even boat captains are saying stay away… just read comments on the Alaska commercial fisherman FB page