Juneau’s hospital readies ventilators and isolation rooms for COVID-19 patients

Bartlett Regional Hospital in 2015. (Photo by Jennifer Canfield/KTOO)

Bartlett Regional Hospital officials in Juneau say they’ve expanded their capability to treat incoming patients infected by coronavirus.

But their total capacity is likely to be a tiny fraction of Juneau’s population.

Chief Nursing Officer Rose Lawhorne said they are “doing everything in their power to take care and support their community members.”

Bartlett would likely not take in all of Juneau’s COVID-19 patients — only those who are seriously ill or those who have serious or underlying health issues. The rest could remain in isolation at home.

To treat those seriously-ill patients, Bartlett officials say they have 10 medical ventilators in stock and access to three more. Ventilators, which are in short supply around the country, provide air to patients and help them breathe.

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, among others.

Lawhorne said another 14 machines could be used like ventilators and — in a pinch — they have eight more machines that can be used to provide oxygen to patients.

To keep contagious people away from other patients at the hospital, Bartlett has five isolation rooms which can filter out and remove airborne viruses. Lawhorne said they’ve already turned an entire wing of the hospital into a temporary isolation ward.

In addition to Bartlett’s facilities, Lawhorne said the City and Borough of Juneau also has access to a portable emergency hospital. It can isolate 16 patients and supply oxygen to another 44.