Due to the recent uptick in deaths related to the Delta variant of Covid-19, Foundation Health Partners brought in a mobile refrigerated unit that is ready to accommodate bodies that cannot fit into the morgue.
The refrigerated unit, which is sitting outside of Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, is not currently activated but can be fully functional within two hours, FHP Spokesperson Kelly Atlee said.
Foundation Health Partners purchased the mobile unit — called a “surge morgue” — in December 2020 using Covid grant money, according to Atlee. Due to the recent surge in cases related to the Delta variant, they moved the unit to FMH last month.
“We wanted to be sure it was ready to use, that power needs were met and employees were trained, in the event it became necessary to use it,” Atlee said.
The surge morgue has a capacity of six to eight bodies, Atlee said. The FMH morgue can hold four bodies.
As of Friday, nine patients died at FMH from Covid since Sunday. Covid is the third most common cause of death among Alaskans so far this year, according to a preliminary report from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services published earlier this week.
FHP was recently awarded grant money they will use to purchase additional equipment to expand their capacity to 16.
“Not pandemic specific, this equipment helps prepare the organization for any mass fatality,” Atlee said.