UPMC: ‘Solid preparedness plans’ for influx of COVID-19

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(WTAJ) — Even as testing kits become more available and progress with vaccines is looking promising, hospital staff are seeing an influx of covid-positive patients.

UPMC hospitals within and near our region, including those in Altoona, Bedford, Somerset and Western Maryland currently care for over 130 patients with COVID-19.

UPMC said they’ve prepared for the influx but encourage the community to follow safety guidelines to prevent further spread, like wearing your mask and frequently washing your hands.

You can read UPMC’s full statement below.

FULL STATEMENT

Because we are part of a 40-hospital academic medical center, UPMC Altoona is working within our system to share resources, transfer patients and manage capacity, and conferring closely with leadership to ensure all needs are met. UPMC is well-prepared to handle this situation within the UPMC system. We are confident that UPMC Altoona will continue to serve the needs of all who seek care.

As we and our public health colleagues expected, in the past month, cases of COVID-19 have increased across the nation, including in the communities UPMC Altoona serves. As we have seen an increase in cases in our community, across Blair County, and across the state, we naturally have seen a recent increase in those requiring hospitalization. In the region, which includes UPMC Altoona, UPMC Bedford, UPMC Somerset and UPMC Western Maryland, on November 18 we are caring for 138 COVID-19 positive patients in our hospitals. Across UPMC, on November 18 we are treating 550 inpatients for COVID-19.

UPMC Altoona is a Level II Trauma Center and Primary Stroke Center that serves patients in a 20-county region and consistently has a high inpatient census as a result. In recent weeks, the inpatient census has remained high, due to both COVID and non-COVID patients. The hospital stands ready and well prepared to care for patients with any illness, including COVID-19. Our staff are well trained and highly skilled; our exceptional teams have been phenomenal at providing safe and compassionate care during these challenging times. 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. We have the advantage of operating as part of the large UPMC hospital network whereby we have the support of vast resources and expertise.

If you are experiencing non-urgent respiratory illness symptoms, contact your doctor’s office, Urgent Care, or utilize UPMC AnywhereCare to virtually see a medical provider, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. If you are experiencing an emergency situation, do not delay care. Our UPMC Emergency Departments are open and ready to care for all patients who need it.

UPMC has solid preparedness plans in place to manage this increase in cases, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. We’ve gone this far, and we’re empowered to weather through the remainder of this pandemic because of our dedicated staff. It’s because of our outstanding teams and medical staff that we’re able to tell our communities that we’re ready, and we’re here for them.

Our opportunity is having a higher degree of vigilance with proper masking and distancing. We continue to encourage the public to practice the public health principles that we know work: 

  • Masking works! Your mask protects you, and it protects others. Wear it properly so it covers your mouth and nose. Do not remove it to talk, cough or sneeze.
  • Wash your hands frequently, particularly after touching communal surfaces or your mask.  
  • Stay home when you are feeling sick. COVID-19 has a wide variety of clinical presentations and can be spread by people with even the mildest of symptoms.
  • If you have any concern that you might have COVID-19, call your doctor and get a video visit to determine next steps.  
  • If you are experiencing a medical emergency, do not delay. Our UPMC Emergency Departments are safe and ready to care for you.
  • Practice physical distancing. If you must gather with others, indoors or out, maintain a safe distance between you and people you do not live with, even if you are wearing a mask. 

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