On June 19, 1902, the first four Sisters of Providence arrived in Alaska. The journey had taken them nine days and included a 72-hour smallpox quarantine before the sisters were allowed to come ashore. On July 15, Holy Cross Hospital opened its doors in Nome, and desperately needed health care became available to gold rush-era Alaskans. From these humble beginnings, Providence Alaska has grown to become the largest health care provider in the state, changing with the times to ensure we can provide care to those in need.

One year ago, many of us thought the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic was behind us. People were lining up to be vaccinated, each filled with hope that we would soon be returning to pre-pandemic life. Unfortunately, a new variant of the virus emerged, and Alaska’s hospitals were overwhelmed. But our caregivers never wavered in their commitment to provide compassionate care to those in need, just as the Sisters of Providence had first done nearly 120 years ago.

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    Our commitment to the Providence Mission — to steadfastly serve all, especially those who are poor and vulnerable — extends beyond the walls of our ministries. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, we continued our work with community partners to ensure Alaskans had access to care, food, shelter and other needs to help ease their way during this difficult time. One example is the new Community Health Worker program in Anchorage, in which trained liaisons work within their communities to seek out those who may be struggling and help them navigate obstacles to accessing the health care they need.

    During this past year, our community investment also ensured people experiencing homelessness could find a permanent home; children had access to behavioral health services; people could receive assistance with a deposit to rent an apartment or home; substance use and disorder treatment services were there for people in need; and a cultural healing arts program was made available for Alaska Native women.

    None of this would be possible without collaboration with many community partners, with whom we share our vision of providing Health for a Better World. Thank you for continuing to trust us with your health and the health of your loved ones. Just as we were in 1902, Providence Alaska caregivers are here for you, now and in the years to come.

    - Preston Simmons, DSC. FACHE, Chief Executive of Providence Alaska


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