By Lois Parshley
Rural communities “tend to be older, with more chronic illness,” making people more at risk of severe Covid-19.
FAIRBANKS, Alaska — Early this week, Kodiak Island, part of an archipelago in southwest Alaska, issued a “hunker down” proclamation, asking residents to stay at home as much as possible. In the Covid-19 pandemic, the remote island, known for its brown bear population, might seem well-positioned — travel on or off the island is limited to the water or air. But Elise Pletnikoff, a family physician and the medical director of the Kodiak Area Native Association, says the same physical remoteness which may help protect rural communities from infection will become a liability if — and, more likely, when — the novel coronavirus arrives.
“Our capacity will be the limiting factor,” she says, “meaning not just equipment, but also staff.” Her organization provides care for 5,000 patients on Kodiak; while there is a hospital on the island, it has limited resources for critical care and usually flies patients needing that kind of medical attention to Anchorage. But Pletnikoff says when Covid-19 cases surge, “we’re worried about how busy everyone will be.”
Categories: Health and Medicine