Public Radio for Alaska's Bristol Bay
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Kanakanak Hospital cannot accept inpatients due to staffing shortage

Kanakanak Hospital in Dillingham. 20
Brian Venua
Kanakanak Hospitak in Dillingham. Photo taken in 2020.

For a week, the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation says it has been unable to accept inpatients because of a staffing shortage at Kanakanak Hospital in Dillingham. On April 8, it began diverting patients who need acute care to other hospitals in Alaska and the Lower 48.

BBAHC lacks a hospitalist–a doctor with expertise in caring for hospitalized patients, according to the health corporation’s public information officer, Cynthia Rogers.

“BBAHC expects to be able to admit inpatients to the hospital by May 1,” said Rogers. “For the month of May, we have secured a hospitalist…We continue to make efforts to get staffing in place sooner than that.”

In the meantime, routine and emergency medical care are still available at Kanakanak Hospital. The emergency department and outpatient clinic are still staffed and operating.

“This should not deter anyone from seeking care at Kanakanak Hospital, said Rogers. “We're able to offer same-day appointments for patients in most cases, and our emergency department will provide ongoing care for patients who need it… Although we're not admitting new patients into our inpatient facility, our emergency department would stabilize any patients who come in for care before they're transported to an inpatient hospital.”

BBAHC typically transports patients with acute medical needs by medevac, according to Rogers.

Air ambulance transportation can cost tens of thousands of dollars for patients who pay out of pocket. Medevac insurance is available through companies like LifeMed and Guardian.