Northern Star Resources, owner company of Interior Alaska’s Pogo gold mine, has donated $1.5 million of personal protective gear to meet health care needs across the state but particularly in Interior Alaska. 

The donation includes 12,500 isolation gowns, 100,000 N95 masks and 400,000 surgical masks. Most of the equipment will be distributed in the greater Fairbanks and Delta areas, but the Department of Health and Social Services will assist the company in distributing some of the equipment to other parts of the state. 

Pogo Mine General Operations Manager Jim Coxon said the donation is meant to help the Interior get back on its feet. 

“We are committed to helping and strengthening the communities in which we operate. We aim to prepare and protect our frontline caregivers in Interior Alaska and across the state during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “We also hope that these supplies will help bolster the Alaska economy by allowing community businesses and nonprofit organizations to safely reopen.” 

The equipment is necessary for some less-emergent health care sectors such as dentistry to reopen. 

“We have a number of providers, dentists and others trying to reopen who were unable to procure PPE when mandated to close,” said Keith Fehr, Interior Alaska Unified Command planning section chief. “This will help the community get back to business and support the entire medical community until supply chains improve.”

This is the largest donation of PPE from a private industry to aid Alaska, noted Gov. Mike Dunleavy in issuing a statement acknowledging the help.

“We are extremely grateful to businesses such as Northern Star which have stepped up, provided procurement and logistics expertise, and donated $1.5 million to source and transport important medical PPE to help fellow Alaskans,” he said. 

Foundation Health Partners, which operates Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, Tanana Valley Clinic and First Care, will be in charge of distributing the equipment throughout the greater Fairbanks area. 

Contact staff writer Erin McGroarty at 459-7544. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.