Penn Highlands announces changes amid rising COVID-19 cases

Local News

CLEARFIELD COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – As coronavirus cases across our region continue to rise, hospitals are seeing an influx of positive cases. Because of this, Penn Highlands hospitals are making changes in operations.

As recently as one month ago there were just a handful of patients positive for covid coming to Penn highlands hospitals per day. But as cases continue to rise, so does the number of patients in ICUs, as they are now up to nearly 40 every day.

Almost all of the patients being admitted to Penn Highland’s ICUs, according to Penn Highlands chief operating officer Mark Norman, are unvaccinated. And as hospitalization rates continue to climb, the next biggest concern for Penn Highlands is: will there be enough room for everyone?

“At this time we have enough staff and PPE. But a worldwide or national, or even regional spike in cases could affect us and all health systems,” Norman said.

The influx in patients forced Penn Highlands to re-implement a limit on visitations. Effective immediately, all patients, except those in end-of-life situations, will have to follow a rule in place for most of last year, only one visitor per patient per visit.

“Penn Highlands Healthcare implementing the recommendation from the CDC that there can be only one support person per patient per visit,” said Dr. Russell Cameron, Penn Highlands chief medical officer.

Cameron said hospitalization ages can range from 20-90 years old with some deaths. he also added that almost all deaths are un-vaccinated.

To date, Penn Highlands has given out nearly 90,000 vaccines and has administered booster shots for those 8 months after their second and immunocompromised since the CDC’s approval last month. They now await final approval from the CDC before they offer the booster to people 6 months out.

“This is only an advisory and we’re waiting for a final ruling from the FDA and the CDC in the coming days,” Dr. Cameron said.

Currently, the hospital’s covid-19 units are currently closed, but Dr. Cameron said if cases continue to rise as they have in recent weeks, they may re-open it.

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