ALTOONA, Pa. (WTAJ) — Hospitals in Pennsylvania, such as UPMC, are slowly resuming not only essential care, but preventative and other elective procedures. However, many patients are opting out of having them done.
Surgeries are down about 70% from the normal level before the pandemic. The healthcare system does test patients for the Coronavirus when coming in for a procedure, but there are plans on expanding that to anyone seeking care.
In the last week, doctors at UPMC performed 10% of surgeries that were postponed due to the virus.
“We don’t want to delay necessary medical care. We don’t want to make little problems into big problems. We don’t want things to become life-threatening,” Chair of UPMC’s Emergency Medicine Department Dr. Don Yealy said.
Over the past week, many patients at UPMC had the procedures they needed, from inserting a cardiac stent into a man having heart issues to helping a retired military veteran who lost some of his eyesight due to a tumor. Both patients tested negative for COVID-19 before their procedures.
“Neither of these were truly emergencies. Some might say it was elective care because it was scheduled. We actually like to think of it as necessary care. Further postponement could’ve caused harm,” Yealy said.
Yealy said UPMC will continue to monitor and respond to any further spread of the virus as parts of the Commonwealth begin to reopen.
“We are going to learn about what care can be delivered in different formats, and we’re going to put that to use. We can’t go back in time. Our goal is to continue to move forward and deliver the best care possible to all that need it,” he said.
UPMC has seen a large increase in telehealth visits from 250 per day in early March to 9,500 per day just last week.