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YKHC Urges State Leaders To Relieve Burden On Rural Healthcare System

The Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation hospital in Bethel, Alaska.
Greg Kim

Leadership at the Yukon-Kuskokwim Health Corporation is calling on the state to take action to help ease the pandemic’s burden on the health care system.


On Sept. 2, YKHC Chief of Staff Dr. Ellen Hodges provided testimony in front of the Alaska Legislature about the dire nature of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region. She urged state leaders to require masking and encourage vaccination. 


She also spoke in favor of two bills proposed by Gov. Mike Dunleavy. One would expand the use of telemedicine. The other would allow hospitals to conduct expedited background checks when hiring new staff. Hodges said that the legislation could help ease the burden on YKHC during the current surge in COVID-19 cases and hospital patients. 


These bills are in lieu of a statewide disaster declaration, which would meet both of the aims of the bills and offer other expanded resources and relief to hospitals. Earlier in the week, hospitals requested a disaster declaration, but Dunleavy has not issued one so far. Now, many hospitals are just hoping to get any relief possible from the state. During an interview with KYUK after her testimony, Hodges echoed the words of Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association President and CEO Jared Kosin.


"However you can offer relief, please offer relief. There needs to be action and it needs to be taken soon. We're at a critical point. I think it's dire," said Hodges.


Hodges also said that the best way the public can help end the pandemic is by getting vaccinated and by wearing masks.