On Monday afternoon, the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services Vaccine Allocation Advisory Committee heard public comment on the COVID-19 vaccine distribution.
There were 350 written comments submitted in advance. Over 50 people signed up to comment during the meeting. One after another, Alaskans spoke for the prioritizing of teachers, fishers, airport employees, remote villages. All of them advocating to be chosen for the next allocation of vaccine.
The committee will hear public comments again on Monday, January 11, 2021.
South Peninsula Hospital Spokesperson, Derotha Ferraro says, “Who will get the next phase of vaccinations?” is a question SPH hears everyday.
But the hospital doesn't get to decide who gets the vaccine next.
That determination is made by DHSS. Right now, the State is in Phase 1 A, which is expressed in three tiers. Tiers one and two included long term care residents, hospital workers and first responders.
Next week, Ferraro says, tier three rolls out.
“Tier Three is any healthcare provider that has any direct patient contact or contact with infectious materials or provides a healthcare service that can't be offered remotely. So, that might be your dentist, your eye doctor, your home health aide. Every week, the net's getting larger,” Ferraro said.
SVT Health and Wellness Center is administering the vaccine to EMS, first responders. So far, they've been allocated 90 vaccines.
Here's Director, Emily Read.
“We have administered 50 of those," Read said. "The remaining EMS providers who want the vaccine have been scheduled over the next two days. And we have distributed that vaccine in two separate events and tomorrow will be the second round.”
Read says SVT staff is doing well. They currently have no staff out of work for COVID-related exposure or illness. They have administered 944 tests to date.
Of those, 30 were positive. On the Homer side of the bay, they usually direct patients to the hospital for testing, but they do provide comprehensive, community testing in Seldovia.
Positivity rates are going down all over the state in the last few weeks and especially at South Peninsula Hospital, whose positivity rate has dropped to 2.5 percent, down from over 5 percent a few weeks ago.
Read says the SVT Health and Wellness is committed to providing care to local COVID patients. They have a nurse on staff who checks in with community members at home with the virus.
“She picks out cases that are local so that she can do the contract tracing. We feel like that's a big bonus to what we can offer to the community. It is our greatest desire to be the medical home for people who need to establish a relationship with a primary care physician,” said Read.
You can hear the entire 8 minute interview with SVT Health and Wellness Director, Emily Read, by clicking on the audio file below.
The Homer COVID Incident Command Team takes your questions, live, on our COVID Brief, every Thursday morning at 9. You can email questions in advance to firstname.lastname@example.org.
South Peninsula Hospital administers free drive-up COVID-19 tests daily at 4201 Bartlett Street.
If you are experiencing COVID symptoms or have any questions about COVID care, call the SPH COVIDline at 235-0235.
Emily Read, Director, Seldovia Village Tribe Health and Wellness
Recorded, Monday, December 28, 2020.
Emily Read, SVT
Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me.
I wanted to find out about vaccinations and SVT. So, did you get some of the first round of the vaccine - the Pfizer or the Moderna? What's going on at Seldovia Village Tribe Health Center?
Thank you for asking. So, Seldovia Village Tribe actually has done the EMS, first responder vaccines. We actually are in line to receive 90 vaccine allocations specifically for Southern Peninsula first responders. At this point in time, we have administered 50 of those. So, we have some more to go. The remaining EMS providers who want the vaccine have been scheduled over the next two days.
So this is the Pfizer vaccine and we have distributed that vaccine in two different separate, events. Tomorrow will be the second round.
So mind you, those individuals have to come back three weeks later to get their second shot.
So how is the health of your staff right now? You have providers across the bay. You have providers in Anchor Point and Seldovia. And I'm wondering about your staffing.
How's your health?
You know, our staffing is really good right now. We have no staff who are out of the clinic for a COVID related, either exposure to a known positive or a positive themselves.
So we have no staff out at this point. We have had in the past, so, we're doing good.
That's great. Has all your staff been vaccinated?
No, they have not. Not all of our staff wants to be vaccinated and we're actually finding that among first responders and, IHS beneficiaries, not everyone wants it yet...or at all.
So, we're, we're working on those who want it to have been vaccinated.
Yes. Okay. Here is the time when I ask about how many tests you've performed at SVT and about the data.
I do have a trusty data report that we generate. Testing has really dropped off.
We have the capacity to test on the rapid ID now for the virus, for people who are symptomatic. We can use that machine. We have the option of sending the tests to the State lab as well as to the Alaska Native Medical Center. But, all told, we have done very, very little testing in the last week and a half.
So the totals that we have completed to date are 944. We have performed 944 COVID tests, Of those, 30 have resulted positive and 914 are negative and we have zero tests pending.
I was speaking to Dr. Christy Tuomi. We had a terrific interview last week.
She told me that SVT has been doing a lot of work with keeping track of patients with COVID and checking in with them every day - that you have healthcare providers who are dedicated to that task.
We actually do. We have a nurse on our staff who is a trained contact tracer and that's this army of contact tracing that has been created and trained by the State of Alaska.
So, we have a nurse on our staff who dedicates a certain number of hours every week, and potentially more than the minimum, of course, following up on specifically lower Kenai
Peninsula, not exclusively.
She may get assignments from Nome, but she specifically. picks out those cases that are local so that she can do the contact tracing for those individuals who have tested positive.
So yeah, we feel like that's a big bonus to what we can offer to the community for sure.
Emily, can you go over with me the way - because a lot of people who don't have a regular healthcare provider rely on SVT, so, can you talk about the testing that you do for COVID and the treatment that you provide?
Well, I can tell you the testing we provide.
The treatment, I'm not really particularly able to tell you, just because I'm not a clinician.
The testing we provide to patients of SVT Health and Wellness: We are actually a medical home and it is our greatest desire to be the medical home for people who need to establish a primary care relationship with a primary care physician or a mid-level practitioner on our staff.
So that is our desire is to be a medical home. So, if a person is not - there's a couple of exceptions to this - but if they're not a patient of the health center, we would refer them to their medical home for testing, or we would refer them to South Peninsula Hospital.
The hospital has done the real heavy lifting in testing for testing in this community.
In Seldovia, we do things a little differently because we are the only local option for testing in that small community. So we do actually do community testing that is related to, for example, people traveling in and out of Alaska or people who may not be patients of SVT, Health and Wellness, but they have a medical procedure, you know, in Anchorage or someplace that they need to be tested in advance of.
So we try to do that kind of testing in Seldovia, for sure.
Thanks. And before I move on to asking Derotha for an update from the hospital, I just want to check in with you one more time.
Emily, is there anything that you came here to say, or information about SVT that you would like to get out to the public that you feel like could use an amplifier?
Thanks for the opportunity. We are a federally qualified health center. We do, in fact, our mission is, to provide care to people who don't have access to care otherwise.
They may be uninsured or destitute financially. So, definitely, that is part of our mission as a health center to provide what's called a safety net for people who might otherwise not have access to care.
We discount the cost of our care for people We've got a very simple medical practice here.
Not, of course, not everyone is eligible for discounts, but we have a big array of services available to people who need us.
Thanks Emily Read, Director of Seldovia Village Tribe Health Center. Is that how to refer to you?
I'm the director of SVT Health and Wellness. Our CEO is a Christa Collier. She's the president and CEO and she's located in Seldovia. So I'm our, I'm our director on this side with Health and Wellness.
Okay, thanks for clearing that up. I will stay in touch with you and continue to issue invitations to join us either live or prerecorded. And thanks so much for your time.
Please do thank you very much.