Field Hospital Pledged for Rural Alaska

May 13, 2020 • United States
Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham meets with Daniel O'Hara, mayor of Naknek, Alaska.
Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham meets with Daniel O'Hara, mayor of Naknek, Alaska.

Samaritan’s Purse is prepared to help in remote Alaska as the fishing industry attracts seasonal workers and the threat of coronavirus rises.

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Samaritan’s Purse has committed one of our Emergency Field Hospitals to the town of King Salmon, Alaska, as a massive influx of commercial fishermen and fishery workers are expected to swell the area’s population this summer—bringing the ominous potential of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Franklin Graham and other Samaritan's Purse staff members see the future site of our Emergency Field Hospital in Alaska.

Franklin Graham and other Samaritan’s Purse staff members meet with local representatives in Alaska.

“Many locals are frightened, remembering what happened when the Spanish flu came through in 1918 and wiped out entire families,” Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham posted on Facebook today. “Thankfully, the government of Alaska has set up many protocols to identify possible cases and mitigate the spread.”

Our commitment stems from meetings Graham had earlier this week in Alaska with government, military, and local officials. Samaritan’s Purse staff members including Edward Graham, Corey Lynch, Dr. Lance Plyler, and Luther Harrison were also present and involved in discussions of the region’s needs and capacity.

This response anticipates the possibility of novel coronavirus affecting Bristol Bay communities, including Naknek, South Naknek, and King Salmon. Beginning in June, more than 10,000 fishermen and workers from across the globe are expected to travel to the “Red Salmon Capital of the World” to harvest and process fish from the rich waters of the bay. With so many outsiders descending on the area, any virus spike could overwhelm local medical services and prove catastrophic for the region’s several hundred permanent residents, about one-third of whom are Native Alaskans.

We are also prepared to send COVID-19 response teams into the surrounding communities to help with prevention and awareness.

Longstanding Commitment to Alaska

Samaritan’s Purse has worked in Alaska for many years, bringing the hope of the Gospel to dozens of communities. Since 2006, our volunteer teams have completed 31 construction projects, including worship centers for congregations that need a warm, safe place to meet for services. In Port Alsworth, Alaska, we have welcomed more than 1,100 U.S. military couples through our Operation Heal Our Patriots project that provides Bible-based marriage enrichment training and spiritual refreshment.

Samaritan's Purse President Franklin Graham speaks at a local meeting in Alaska this week.

Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham speaks at a meeting in the Bristol Bay area of Alaska.

Most recently, in April, Samaritan’s Purse airlifted to Alaska over eight tons of supplies critical for the fight against the pandemic. At Governor Mike Dunleavy’s request, we provided hospital beds, thermometers, and personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and gowns. The critical resources were delivered through the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to rural areas of the state that are extremely vulnerable to the virus.

Samaritan’s Purse has been at the forefront of the international response to COVID-19, deploying our Emergency Field Hospitals in Cremona, Italy, and New York City. Both sites closed recently after treating hundreds of COVID-19 patients over the past two months.

Please pray for our Alaska team as they anticipate this new initiative, which continues our work of bringing help in Jesus’ Name to remote areas of the state.

Asher Bray, left, a Samaritan's Purse water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) specialist and Lance Plyler, director of World Medical Mission, were among the team who helped train medical personnel at Camai Community Health Center in Naknek, Alaska.

Asher Bray, left, a Samaritan’s Purse water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) specialist and Dr. Lance Plyler, director of World Medical Mission, were among the team who helped train medical personnel at Camai Community Health Center in Naknek, Alaska.

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Emergency Medicine Whether deploying our Emergency Field Hospital in the wake of COVID-19, setting up treatment centers in the midst of an Ebola outbreak, or offering care in the midst of armed conflict, Samaritan's Purse stands ready to respond in the face of a myriad of medical crises. Your gift will help bring expert treatment and the hope of the Gospel to the sick and suffering.

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