NSHC Situation Report Update
March 17, 2020
to the Norton Sound Health Corporation community
There are no presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the Norton Sound/Bering Strait Region. There are three presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Alaska.

The latest news from Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, including the latest health mandates and alerts, can be found here.
Situation Report
Visitor Guidelines: Visitation is restricted at NSHC - both at the Norton Sound Regional Hospital and in village clinics. NSRH now closes to the public at 7 p.m. Visitors are not allowed in Quyanna Care Center or Acute Care, unless they have the special permission of the nursing manager. Visits to the hospital and village clinics should be limited to patients who have appointments and who are picking up medications. All other matters should be handled by phone, if possible.

NSHC's Fireweed Cafe is serving meals to only patients and employees, as of Tuesday, March 17.

The Patient Hostel/Pre-Maternal Home is closed to visitors. Emergency situation visits may receive permission from the hostel manager. Patients and escorts are still being cared for normally.
Employee Travel: NSHC employees who are returning from travel outside the region within the last two weeks must contact Karla Homelvig or Megan Mackiernan before returning to work. Employees must notify Karla or Megan if their spouse/significant other/roommate has traveled to a location where the virus is prevalent as well. Employees are asked to consider future travel plans carefully and determine whether they are able to take an additional two weeks off of work if they are unexpectedly quarantined.
Village Medical Travel: In an effort to safeguard and minimize the risk of COVID-19 exposure to the region’s villages, NSHC is temporarily altering the processes of provider visits to the villages and patient visits to Nome. Read the PSA in its entirety here.
Conserving Supplies: Both employees and the public should be aware that NSHC is conserving its medical supplies. Nationwide, health care facilities are experiencing a shortage of different medical supplies. Of note: only patients who are coughing and sneezing should wear masks, which are available upon entry to the hospital or clinics. Masks are used to contain germs and protect others from exposure. Only specialized, fitted masks used by health care providers are effective in blocking out germs from the outside.

Employees should check with their supervisors for the latest recommendations on PPE. Patients and the public should know that NSHC staff will continue to care for them in a safe manner.
NSHC Physician Report
Mark Peterson, MD - Medical Director: "NSHC physicians and staff are working directly with ANTHC and the State of Alaska on a daily basis in preparation for the possibility of COVID-19 infections in our region. We are fully staffed and have procedures in place in all departments for the safe evaluation and treatment of any patients who might present with COVID-19. We are preparing for any situation that may present."

Terry O'Malia, DO - Director of ER and Acute Care: "The ER and Acute Care units are open 24/7 and are fully staffed. Our physicians have done and will continue to do ongoing training specific to COVID-19 identification and care. We have not seen any cases of COVID-19. We are capable of dealing with the COVID-19 virus per CDC and Alaska Department of Health and Social Services recommendations. We ask that you call in advance of coming to the ED, if at all possible, so that we are aware that you are coming. Calling ahead allows us to better prepare for your treatment when you arrive."

Gary Kulka, MD - Director of Clinical Services: "Primary Care Clinic is open with regular hours of operation. The clinic is operating with a full staff, and we will continue to see our regular patients. However, we are asking those who are over age 60, or those who are immunosuppressed, to delay routine appointments for the next 30-60 days due to these patients being at higher risk. If patients are unsure if they should come in or not, we urge them to call and ask a member of the staff."
Additional Resources
Nationwide: Read up on all COVID-19 information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

Statewide: Do you have non-clinical questions about COVID-19? You can utilize the Alaska 211 hotline and speak with a medical volunteer. Find all Alaska DHSS recommendations and mandates here.

Regional: If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) and you believe you may have come into contact with the virus, you should call NSHC's Nurse Call Line before going to your provider to be seen: 907-443-6411. All the latest public safety announcements from NSHC can be found on our website.