Dear Valued Patients:

We at Anchorage Bariatrics recognize that the current national and world-wide COVID-19 pandemic has created serious concerns for everyone in our community. We also understand that as we are all forced by these circumstances to change our daily activities and restrict our interactions with others, each member of our community will have mounting worries regarding not only their health and that of their loved ones, but also how such changes will impact their financial and social well-being. Please know that our thoughts and efforts remain aimed at providing the best possible outcomes for our patients, while respecting the needs of our staff and of all in our community.

One of the key concerns for healthcare facilities in this current climate of uncertainty, is to ensure that patients who do develop severe illness related to coronavirus infection have access to the care they need. Our national surgical leaders, including the Surgeon General, and the leadership of the American College of Surgeons, have recommended that each healthcare facility keep a close eye on the healthcare needs of their communities as those needs evolve, and that once any strain develops on a facility, it should shift resources away from non-urgent surgical procedures towards the more emergent needs of COVID-19 patients.

Given these recommendations from our national surgical leadership, as well as the current recommendations from the State of Alaska Department of Health and Social Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the different facilities in the Anchorage area have each made somewhat different decisions regarding the continuation of elective surgical procedures. Starting on 3/17/2020 and continuing until at least 4/17/2020, Providence Alaska Medical Center has suspended all non-urgent surgical procedures. This includes all initial elective Roux-en-Y gastric bypass and sleeve gastrectomy surgeries. This would not prevent us from providing care to anyone with an urgent need, such as a complication from a previous bariatric surgery requiring timely treatment. At present, Alaska Regional Hospital and the Surgery Center of Anchorage have decided to continue elective surgical procedures. These decisions are evaluated on a daily basis, to ensure that appropriate and sufficient resources are available for COVID-19 patients as the number of such patients increases over the coming days. If these decisions change, we will work to update the information on this web page quickly, but will prioritize any patients directly affected by scheduling changes first.

It is important to keep in mind that, depending on the circumstances of each person in this rapidly evolving pandemic, there may be increased risk of exposure to this infectious agent with any travel outside of the home. Currently, however, there has not been any documented communication of the causative virus in Alaska, and therefore we believe that traveling by private vehicle to be seen in the clinic, the hospital, or the outpatient surgery center does not constitute more than a minimal increased risk. As this illness is transmitted person to person through tiny droplets of upper respiratory tract fluids (e.g. as are created by coughing or sneezing) this risk can be reduced by maintaining a 6 foot distance from all other persons at all times, by avoiding all unnecessary physical contact with other people, by washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds frequently, by avoiding touching your face with your hands, by keeping frequently touched surfaces (e.g. door knobs, phones, computer keyboards) clean, and by sick persons and those traveling from areas of higher infectious risk staying home except to obtain urgent medical care.

Please see the following bullet points for a quick run-down of our current situation:

– Please note that all of the below information is subject to change, and almost certainly some of these items will change over the next several days or weeks. As the numbers of COVID-19 patients in our community increases, the strain on healthcare facilities may become extreme, necessitating increased restrictions on elective treatments to ensure appropriate resource allocation. As information changes, we will do our best to rapidly provide clear notice to all directly affected patients, and to update our website in as timely a fashion as is feasible.

Anchorage Bariatrics remains open at this time, and will honor all currently scheduled visits and procedures.

–  Our surgeons and staff will work diligently to follow all CDC and state guidelines and recommendations regarding providing healthcare in the midst of this pandemic, while at the same time providing the same high standard of patient care for which we always strive.

–  We understand the strains that so many are under, and will accept any patient’s decision to delay any type of scheduled visit without question. We have suspended all late notice and no-show fees for all types of visits with evidence related to the virus. If you do decide to not come to a scheduled appointment, we would of course appreciate as much advanced notice as you can provide.

– We ask any patients that have traveled outside of Alaska to self-quarantine for 14 days per CDC recommendations, and call our office to reschedule any appointments.

– Providence Alaska Medical Center has suspended all elective surgery until at least April 17, 2020. Any patient scheduled to have a procedure with us at PAMC will therefore need to be rescheduled after April 17, 2020, and possibly even further depending on how COVID-19 affects the hospital over the next month.

– Alaska Regional Hospital and the Surgery Center of Anchorage remain open to elective surgery and endoscopic procedures with normal schedules. We will continue daily communication with these facilities and will notify any directly affected patients should these policies change.

– We wish all of our patients and our community the very best, and reassure all of you that we will remain accessible for any questions you have. If all of us work together, we have great confidence that Alaska will weather this difficult time with as much prudence, caring, and grace as it has weathered so many other difficult times.

Please see these web pages for more information on these important topics:
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
http://dhss.alaska.gov/dph/Epi/id/Pages/COVID-19/default.aspx
https://hcahealthcare.com/covid-19/https://www.providence.org/patients-and-visitors/coronavirus-advisory?_ga=2.48901347.496939541.1584523209-500717500.1584523209&pk_vid=4f0b5a375474b90e15845232221124ad
https://www.facs.org/about-acs/covid-19

Sincerely,
The Surgeons and Staff of Anchorage Bariatrics