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Providence Alaska Medical Center, photographed Monday, September 27, 2021 in Anchorage. (Loren Holmes / ADN) A conservative Anchorage political activist’s illness at Providence Alaska Medical Center became a flashpoint in a battle over COVID-19 treatments this week, with a city Assembly member joining in a campaign to compel doctors to administer ivermectin, an unproven treatment for the virus.William Topel’s treatment at Providence became a rallying point for people who say patients should be allowed to try ivermectin, a medicine used to treat parasites in humans and worms in livestock that the FDA says should not be used for COVID-19.Topel died early Wednesday, according to Michael Chambers, an Anchorage artist who described himself as a longtime friend.Topel, who had testified at numerous Anchorage Assembly meetings against pandemic precautions, was hospitalized late last week after contracting the virus, Chambers said. Chambers said that Topel was trying to get monoclonal antibody treatment. However, it was discovered that Topel’s oxygen levels were low. Topel was then taken to Providence.“He wrote it down on a piece of paper: I don’t want to be intubated and I don’t want remdesivir, I am requesting that I get ivermectin,”According to Chambers.Bill Topel. (Photo courtesy Michael Chambers ‘Jamie, she was talking directly to doctors and nurses’Jamie Allard, an Anchorage Assembly member, became involved on Saturday. Chambers says Topel gave her power of attorney, which allows her to make decisions regarding legal or medical matters for another person. Topel was “still coherent,” Chambers said. “He could talk, he could have conversations.”Chambers stated that Allard had spoken to Providence medical staff over several days and pushed for the treatments Topel requested.“Jamie, she was talking directly to doctors and nurses,”Chambers said. Anchorage attorney Mario Bird wrote to Providence executives asking that Topel be administered ivermectin as well as an IV drip containing vitamins. Allard posted a Facebook message about her campaign but it was later deleted. Bird did not respond to a request to comment. Topel was also given an IV drip of vitamins and ivermectin.“I don’t have a comment,”Before Allard hung up the phone with a reporter Wednesday, a campaign to get Providence Topel to administer ivermectin was circulating in conservative Facebook groups. One appeal asked Gov. Mike Dunleavy will step in.“William has requested the use of Ivermectin at Providence Hospital in Anchorage for COVID-19. Providence refuses to try!”Spokesman Jeff Turner stated that Dunleavy was aware about social media posts regarding the matter. He did not weigh in.“It would be inappropriate for him to intervene in someone’s personal medical care,” Turner said.Livestreamed videoA senior member of the Bronson administration also showed up at the hospital on Saturday, trying to visit Topel.Terrence Shanigan, the mayor’s director of legislative affairs and a 10-year friend of Topel’s, said in an interview Wednesday evening that he was there to drop off a phone charger at Topel’s request.In a live video posted by Dustin Darden to Facebook on Saturday, Shanigan can be seen walking into Providence asking to see a friend or make a delivery alongside Darden.Darden, an Anchorage activist and repeat candidate for office, frequently causes disruptions during Assembly meetings and is often asked to leave Assembly chambers by leadership. He was previously arrested during a meeting and temporarily blocked from Assembly chambers, though he is now allowed to attend meetings.Shanigan said he didn’t know Darden would also be at the hospital. He said he dropped off the phone charger at the hospital’s front desk and then stopped to pray for about 15 minutes with a family on the sidewalk apparently getting last rites for a gravely ill relative.The two men saw each other there, Shanigan said. Then they decided to do a prayer walk around the hospital for Topel along with a friend who’d driven him, he said. The trio entered again at a back entry to ask about visitor policies.As Shanigan’s friend recorded, Darden hung back because he wasn’t wearing a face mask. Shanigan, wearing a mask had a polite conversation with an employee at the hospital. He pointed to a list that asked visitors screening questions about whether they had any objects on the wall that could be considered a weapon.“Why are they asking this?”He can be heard saying. “Is it they are afraid people with COVID are going to get violent?”Mikal Canfield, spokesperson for Provision Hospital, said that the men raised concerns from security because they were carrying weapons. “asked questions about hospital policies regarding weapons and patient visitation.”After the group was told they couldn’t come in due to visitation policies, they were seen trying to enter through different entrances, filming and taking videos, Canfield said. He said that they eventually left the building without incident. Shanigan claimed that the group did not attempt to enter the building except through the back and front entrances. Shanigan said that the security attention was due to a family dispute that involved someone on staff at the hospital. Anchorage police pulled up to Shanigan’s car and approached him. Shanigan replied that he was already leaving.“I wanted to support Bill, and that’s what I did,”Corey Allen Young, a spokesman for the Bronson administration, stated that Shanigan was not present.“Whatever happened at the hospital has nothing to do with the mayor’s office,” he wrote.IvermectinIvermectin is approved to treat certain infections caused by parasites in people.Some people, including vaccine skeptics, have championed it as a treatment or even preventive drug for COVID-19.The majority of medical authorities say medication of any kind for viral illness is extremely limited and vaccines are by far the most effective way to protect against viruses, including the COVID-19 virus.Ivermectin is not authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for preventing or treating COVID-19. Multiple trials are ongoing, but no evidence has shown that the drug works. (Photo courtesy Michael Chambers) In 2018, Bill Topel celebrated his victory with Mike Dunleavy, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (Photo courtesy Michael Chambers). In a letter addressed to legislators, the chairperson of the state pharmacy boards, a Soldotna pharmacist, noted potential legal liabilities for pharmacists over drugs that they dispense. She also said that pharmacists were free and open to using their pharmacist’s prescriptions. “professional judgment”When deciding whether to fill prescriptions. He also spoke out about reports of misuse of Ivermectin to treat COVID-19 “should give most prescribers and pharmacists reason to pause.”A spokesperson for Providence stated Wednesday that they do not use ivermectin in treating the virus. The hospital said it can’t discuss specifics regarding patient care in Topel’s case or any other.Ivermectin is not an antiviral drug, spokesperson Mikal Canfield wrote in an email.“Ivermectin tablets are approved at very specific doses for some parasitic worms, and there are topical (on the skin) formulations for head lice and skin conditions like rosacea,”Canfield said. “compassionate care”He said that they were angry at the calls they receive from people requesting ivermectin treatment.“We understand that having a loved one in the hospital is extremely traumatic, and our caregivers attempt to ensure their concerns are heard.”Hospital vs. hospitalAs Topel’s condition worsened, Allard and others tried to have him transferred to Alaska Regional Hospital, Chambers said. Topel and his representative might be able. “shop for a doctor that would prescribe ivermectin” at Regional, he said.The transfer to Regional didn’t happen because there was no ICU-level bed available, Chambers said.A Regional spokesperson said she couldn’t provide any patient-specific information but made it clear the hospital is crowded and does not endorse ivermectin use.The hospital’s ICU has been at capacity for many days and did not have capacity to accept transfers recently, spokesperson Kjerstin Lastufka said Wednesday.Regional “relies on licensed, independent physicians who use their extensive training and experience to assess patients’ needs and determine the course of treatment,”Lastufka wrote an email. Ivermectin “is not a recommended therapy for COVID-19 in the United States by the FDA, and is not endorsed as a COVID-19 therapy in our hospital.”Chambers said he believes ivermectin treatments have been unfairly maligned by the media and some in the medical establishment.On Tuesday night, Topel’s illness came up in a raw exchange at the Assembly meeting, just before a vote on an emergency order to require masking.Assembly member Chris Constant mentioned a person who had previously testified and was now critically ill. Topel was not named by Constant.“We’ve heard a very sad story of an individual who was here two Wednesdays ago … who is now on a ventilator and may or may not make it,”Constant said. Allard replied, ” “If you’re talking about my friend, we have a problem,”Call Constant “irresponsible”And “disgusting”And a “disgrace.”“And he’s not on an intubator,”She spoke. “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”Topel died Wednesday morning. Chambers says he is heartbroken by his friend’s death.He admits he doesn’t know what would have happened if Topel had gotten the ivermectin treatment.“Whether or not he would have medically benefited (from receiving the treatment), I don’t know. I am not a doctor,” Chambers said. “But I know his spirits would have been tremendously lifted.”This story was contributed by Emily Goodykoontz, a Daily News reporter.
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