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Staffing shortage forces Kanakanak Hospital to limit inpatient care through June 5

Izzy Ross
Kanakanak Hospital. July 11, 2021.

This article was updated on Friday, May 27, 2022, to reflect that restrictions on inpatient care will continue through June 5.

The Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation is not accepting inpatients this week due to a staffing shortage at Kanakanak Hospital. It said in an announcement on Monday that it will divert patients who need serious medical treatment to other hospitals in Alaska through Friday, May 27. But in an update on Friday, it said those restrictions will continue through June 5.

The hospital is still providing routine care and emergency services.

This is the second time this spring that the health corporation has had to divert inpatient care to other facilities due to staffing shortages. The first time was in April, when restrictions lasted for almost two weeks.

Specifically, the health corporation doesn’t have a hospitalist — a physician who specializes in the treatment of hospitalized patients.

Public Information Officer Cynthia Rogers said in an email that the health corporation had secured a rotation of four hospitalists for May. She said exposures to COVID-19 have disrupted the hospital’s workforce recently.

“We regret the impact to our patient services and are working hard to find alternatives as soon as possible,” she said.

There are currently around 100 job openings with the health corporation. Rogers said the health corporation has worked to address staffing challenges during the pandemic through the use of temporary employees and alternative scheduling, like changing shifts and rotations.

People can still receive emergency and routine care at Kanakanak Hospital. COVID-19 testing is also available at the hospital Monday through Friday. To schedule an appointment, get vaccinated or receive a test, call 907-842-9369.

Get in touch with the author at or 907-842-2200.

Izzy Ross is the news director at KDLG, the NPR member station in Dillingham. She reports, edits, and hosts stories from around the Bristol Bay region, and collaborates with other radio stations across the state.
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