As the transmission of local viruses grows exponentially, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital reports a record high intake of Covid patients, who tend to be younger and sometimes more angry than at the start of the pandemic, health officials said Friday.
Leaders of the Foundation’s health partners provided an update to Covid-19, citing the record-high admission rate at Fairbanks Memorial Hospital and describing changes in patients’ demographics.
On average, 1
“We are really struggling right now; we have a record number of patients in the hospital, ”said Shelley Ebenal, executive director of the HLC and quality medical director.
Overall, 18% of all patients at Interior Hospital are Covid patients, compared to 5% nationwide, according to the hospital’s Covid-19 scoreboard. Of the 56 beds in the interior, 51 are occupied. Of the 13 intensive care beds, eight are full.
Covid patients are younger
In addition to admitting more patients, the hospital also sees that patients are younger than at the start of the pandemic, Ramirez said.
For example, one day in the past week, of 12 patients with Covid, eight were under the age of 65, including a 25-year-old in an intensive care unit. The others were on the common floor, with one person in their 40s, three in their 50s and three in their early 60s, according to Ramirez.
The shorter age range of hospitalization also leads to an increase in the transmission of viruses among younger children, including babies under the age of one and babies who are in the first month of life, said pediatrician Laura Bruner.
“These are no longer hospitalized grandparents; these are parents, ”she said, explaining that because children live with their parents, they are also exposed to the virus.
Covid patients stay in the hospital longer
Because patients are younger, they tend to recover from the virus – after a hospital stay for two to three weeks, said Dr. Barb Creighton.
“We see them staying longer because they don’t die,” Creighton said. She said she was happy to see patients turn, but “she is concerned about the hospital, which is building more and more patients.”
Patients with Covid have not been fully vaccinated
When the patients were counted last week, none of Covid’s patients were fully vaccinated, Ramirez said. In addition, the hospital has not seen fully vaccinated people hospitalized with the virus.
Creighton said patients’ demographics had changed since the vaccine was released. Before, people who were older or local came to the hospital with Kovid. Because the elderly are the most immunized age group in Alaska, and the local population is leading the state vaccination effort, current patients with Covid usually belong to another group.
“These are young people,” Creighton said. “These are middle-aged white boys – I’m sorry to say this – but this is really the demographics of people who haven’t moved to get vaccinated or don’t really feel they need to be vaccinated because they are younger, at about 40, they want to see what the vaccine will do before they get it. “
Covid patients get angry
When the hospital accepts older patients, they show gratitude to the hospital staff, which changes with the change in demographics, Ebenal said.
“These are summaries,” she noted, “but some of these people are anti-waxers, anti-maskers and don’t believe they have Covid or are sick because of it, and our staff are very angry people. “
Ebenal said hospital staff do not feel the community values their work.
“Our morale is really low,” she said. “We need to make sure that they know that the community values what they are doing because they are at the bottom right now, in a completely different way than they were before.”
Cases growing in Fairbanks
Creighton said Covid’s growing cases and hospitalizations, combined with high social activity in the region, are worrying hospital staff.
“There are interruptions that we have businesses opening, filling school buses, restaurants, and visitors happen and yet we have the highest percentage of cases,” she said. “So we’re like, does anyone see that?” This place burns with Kovid. ”
Fairbanks North Star Borough more than tripled its average number of Covid-19 cases this month, according to the area. The region has the highest virus transmission in Alaska, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Vaccinations are low
One of the main drivers of cases in the Fairbanks region is the low vaccination rate, Ramirez said. With 36.5% of people fully vaccinated, the neighborhood remains second to last in vaccination across the country.
“What we know all the time from science is that if we have a significant amount of virus in the community and it is not vaccinated and people are not universally disguised, it will spread,” she said. “And we see that.”
Officials recommend that unvaccinated people disguise themselves and do as many outdoor activities as possible. They also work to make it easier for people to get vaccinated.
Half of Alaska’s adults have received at least their first dose of vaccine since Friday. Another 30% are considering vaccinations and another 20% are reluctant to receive the vaccine, said Public Health Director Heidi Hedberg. To reach her immunity, about 70% to 80% of the community must be immune to the virus, said state epidemiologist Joe McLain.
“Not everyone will be vaccinated,” Ramirez said. “But we just need a large number to get vaccinated, to protect and defend everyone.”
Contact staff writer Alena Naiden at 459-7587. Follow her on twitter.com/FDNMlocal.