Are local hospitals near their limit as COVID-19 cases surge?

Local News

(WTAJ) — The Pennsylvania Department of Health predicts hospitals will reach capacity within weeks as the state continues down an alarming path of new COVID-19 infections. Area hospitals are already seeing more patients than in the spring, but what happens if they do reach their limit?

As of Tuesday, there are nearly 3,500 Pennsylvanians hospitalized with the Coronavirus. More than 750 of them are in the ICU.

“(We are) working through our healthcare preparedness program infrastructure, including PHMC and our regional health care coalitions to develop regional coordination teams that will address medical surge and resource needs at the regional level.”

Nate Wardle, Press Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Health

Here’s a breakdown of COVID-19 patients in our local hospitals:

  • Conemaugh Memorial: More than 50
  • Regional UPMC hospitals: 199
  • Mount Nittany: 27

In Cambria County, a spokesperson for Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center said the hospital has enough space and staff to care for patients with and without COVID-19.

“Should we continue to see an increase of patients at our hospital, we will rely on our robust emergency operations plan to expand patient capacity, if needed.”

Spokesperson for Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center

At UPMC Altoona, Bedford, Somerset, and Western Maryland, the regional hospitals continue to see high numbers of patients with and without the virus.

“Over the past months we have optimized our operations so that we can quickly scale up our ability to handle increasing cases of COVID-19.”

Spokesperson for Regional UPMC Hospitals

In Centre County, Mount Nittany Health’s Chief Medical Officer said the increased numbers they’re seeing are a cause for concern.

“Even with the prospects for a vaccine looking good, the virus will be part of our lives for at least several months and perhaps longer.”

Dr. Nirmal Joshi, Chief Medical Officer, Mount Nittany Health

Each of these area hospitals said they have adequate space and staff to handle the increase in patients.

The Department of Health is working with PEMA and the Health Care Coalitions to create Alternate Care Sites if this surge of the virus becomes too much for local hospitals.

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