A century ago, the influenza pandemic caused worldwide panic and took the lives of millions of people in every corner of the globe. Alaska was not spared from the impact of the virus, which devastated many communities. Sisters of Providence, serving in Fairbanks at the time, provided care to everyone in need until many of the Sisters also became ill with the flu. Community volunteers rose to the occasion, volunteering to cook, nurse and clean at the hospital.
The collaboration and commitment was critically important then and — as this past year demonstrated — critically important today. Few alive today experienced the pandemic that took place 100 years ago. Thankfully, we have had many breakthroughs in the way we provide care since 1918-1920. We also have the legacy of the Providence Mission, to provide care to all, especially those who are poor and vulnerable. Our caregivers and community partners continued that legacy in 2020, providing care to the communities we serve as COVID-19 infected thousands of Alaskans. Alaska overall can be very proud of its collective efforts and response through this incredibly difficult time.