This is gut-wrenching, and I never thought I’d see it. We are taxed to a point of making decisions of who will and who will not live. — Dr. Steven Floerchinger, a physician at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage
This is gut-wrenching, and I never thought I’d see it. We are taxed to a point of making decisions of who will and who will not live. — Dr. Steven Floerchinger, a physician at Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage
In Alaska’s Covid Crisis, Doctors Must Decide Who Lives and Who Dies
“This is gut-wrenching, and I never thought I’d see it,” said Dr. Floerchinger, who has been in practice for 30 years. “We are taxed to a point of making decisions of who will and who will not live.”

... Through much of the pandemic, Alaska’s natural isolation had shielded the state, with the early months defined by strict testing protocols for people arriving from the outside. Many villages locked down. When vaccines arrived, there was a legion of planes, ferries and sleds to bring doses to far-flung communities.

But with some pockets of the state wary of taking vaccines and Gov. Mike Dunleavy resisting restrictions to curtail the virus, the state’s isolation has become a growing liability as the Delta variant sweeps through.

Much of the nation’s hospital system is stressed, but overloaded facilities in the lower 48 states have had more flexibility to transfer patients to neighboring cities or other states. In Anchorage, most of the help is 1,500 miles away in Seattle, and hospitals in the Pacific Northwest have been challenged by their own disastrous virus outbreak.


“When your hospitals are full, you can’t just put them into an ambulance and take them to another town,” Senator Lisa Murkowski said of Alaskan patients in a floor speech to Congress on Friday. She described her own trip to an emergency room in Fairbanks, where a loved one needed help for a non-Covid problem. They were told that critical care beds were full and that they might have to fly to Seattle.

Doctors and nurses have started speaking out in meetings, urging the public to take the virus more seriously, but they have repeatedly encountered hostility.
Read the full article: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/03/us/coronavirus-crisis-alaska.html