Sitka, Alaska – Facing the rise of COVID-19 cases in Sitka, SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) is taking swift action. The safety of patients and healthcare workers is SEARHC’s top priority, and strategies from the Consortium’s surge plan have been deployed to address the increased need for care and emerging challenges of coronavirus variants in the community.
Sitka is currently experiencing its highest volume of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The latest testing data indicate both Delta and Gamma variants present, which have been shown to be highly transmissible and cause more severe symptoms in those that are unvaccinated. SEARHC is experiencing fully vaccinated individuals testing positive for COVID-19 and unvaccinated populations being hospitalized at higher rates with COVID-related medical issues.
“SEARHC has prepared for this surge,” said Dr. Elliot Bruhl, Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at SEARHC. “In addition to connecting with public health officials and community leaders through Incident Command, screening at all facilities and requiring employee vaccinations, we have ample tests, vaccines and personal protective equipment to support our communities.”
Vaccination continues to be key in protecting Southeast communities.
“It’s more important than ever to get vaccinated and take precautions in the presence of COVID-19 variants,” said Dr. Bruhl. “Data show that COVID-19 vaccines are 97 percent successful in preventing hospitalization. SEARHC medical teams are doing an outstanding job caring for our communities, and we need residents and visitors to do their part as well to help slow the spread.”
SEARHC encourages all residents and visitors to remain vigilant and take appropriate steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19: get vaccinated, encourage others to make a vaccine appointment and wear a mask in public and when in close proximity to others. In addition, maintain a six-foot distance from people outside the household and wash hands frequently. SEARHC also recommends COVID-19 testing for residents and visitors who experience COVID-19 symptoms or suspect they have been exposed.
To meet increased community needs and improve COVID-19 testing in Sitka, services have been consolidated at Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center (MEMC) via drive-through and walk-up testing, with no appointment needed. Tests are available for all ages every day from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., across the street from the MEMC main entrance. To minimize community exposure, residents and visitors in Sitka are urged to get tested exclusively at this site.
For the latest COVID-19 updates and to schedule a test or vaccine, visit covid19.searhc.org.