Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Central Peninsula Hospital is seen in Soldotna on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

CPH sees fewer COVID patients as statewide cases recede

On Monday, there were only 37 total inpatients with fewer than 11 COVID patients.

Central Peninsula Hospital hasn’t had more than 10 COVID-19 patients since last Monday, as hospitalizations seem to be trending downward.

Bruce Richards, the external affairs director at the facility, said that hospital capacity as a whole has been down. On Monday, there were 37 total patients.

“It looks like we’re on the back side of the second wave,” Richards said.

The health care workers at CPH are taking care of fewer patients, he said, which is allowing them to return to relatively normal operational conditions. Richards said there are still a few COVID patients, but the staff is now able to rest after months of inpatients inundating the hospital.

“It’s become much more manageable now,” he said.

The Alaska State Department of Health and Social Services announced two more COVID deaths Monday, which pushed the total number of statewide deaths to 803 since the pandemic began.

Alaska remained at a high COVID transmission alert level Monday — estimating a rolling average of 386.6 cases per 100,000 people across the state cumulatively over the past seven days.

The threshold for high alert level is 100 or more cases per 100,000 people in the span of one week. The state has surpassed that metric more than three times over.

Another 1,089 COVID cases were announced over the weekend. They included 22 in Kenai, 17 in Homer, 14 in Soldotna, four in Nikiski, three each in the Kenai Peninsula Boroughs North and South and Sterling, two in Seward and one in Anchor Point.

Statewide there were 162 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Monday, with 19 of those patients on ventilators.

Health officials widely agree that vaccination is the best way to prevent serious illness, hospitalization and death from COVID, especially as Alaska is still leading the country in daily cases per capita according to the New York Times.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention extended the emergency use authorization of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for kids ages 5 to 11 earlier this month, giving eligibility to another 28 million people in the U.S.

Pfizer is approved for everyone 5 years and older, while the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson/Janssen vaccines are approved for anyone 18 and older.

Pfizer and Moderna boosters and additional doses are also available for certain high-risk populations. Anyone who received the single-shot J&J vaccine is recommended to get a booster of any brand.

Getting a COVID vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines do not cost money. Many different organizations on the central peninsula, including Walmart, Walgreens, the Kenai Fire Department and Kenai Public Health, offer vaccines. They are also available for both residents and visitors at airports in Anchorage, Juneau and Fairbanks.

Additionally, Soldotna Professional Pharmacy hosts a walk-in clinic in its strip mall storefront at the “Y” intersection of the Sterling and Kenai Spur highways. The clinic has extended its hours to Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Vaccination appointments can also be scheduled through the online portal PrepMod, which can be accessed at myhealth.alaska.gov.

A map of vaccine providers can be found on DHSS’ COVID-19 vaccine website at covidvax.alaska.gov.

People who would like assistance scheduling a vaccination appointment can call the Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management call center. The center operates Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon. The central peninsula call center can be reached at 907-262-4636. The Homer call center can be reached at 907-235-4636. The Seward call center can be reached at 907-224-4636.

COVID testing locations

Officials encourage anyone with symptoms to test for COVID-19, despite vaccination status.

In Kenai, testing is available at the Chignik Lagoon Clinic, Odyssey Family Practice, Kenai Public Health Center and Capstone Clinic.

In Soldotna, testing is available at the Peninsula Community Health Center, Urgent Care of Soldotna, Walgreens and Soldotna Professional Pharmacy.

In Seward, testing is available at Providence Medical Center, Chugachmiut-North Star Health Clinic, Glacier Family Medicine, Seward Community Health Center and the Safeway pharmacy. The Seward Community Health Center at 417 First Avenue is offering drive-thru testing Tuesdays only, starting Nov. 16. Bring a face covering and photo ID.

In Homer, testing is available at South Peninsula Hospital, or through other area health care providers at Seldovia Village Tribe Health and Wellness, Kachemak Medical Group and Homer Medical Center.

Reach reporter Camille Botello at camille.botello@peninsulaclarion.com.

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