HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Hospitals in the Midstate continue to struggle with staffing levels and a crush of COVID patients.
Across its eight hospitals, WellSpan is caring for 450 COVID patients, a number that’s doubled over the last six weeks.
“Our hospitals are operating above and beyond their intended capacity and it requires taking certain areas of our hospitals such as pre-op or post-operative bays or emergency department bays and using them as space for hospital patients,” said Dr. Roxanna Gapstur, CEO of WellSpan Health.
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Since Monday, a team of 20 physicians, nurses and respiratory specialists from the air force have been working alongside WellSpan employees.
“While they’re based in York, the FEMA team gives us the capacity to shift other team members and resources across our health system and reduce the strain on some of our other hospitals and care teams,” Gapstur said.
It couldn’t come at a better time when COVID is stretching the entire health care system to its limits.
“We have a total of almost 1,200 patients, about 40% of those are there because of COVID-19 Not because they have a different problem and just happen to test positive, said Dr. Tony Aqualina, executive vice president and chief physician executive for WellSpan Health.
Penn State Health has a bit less, but that doesn’t make things any easier.
“20% of our patient populations COVID, but it’s taken up 80% of our resources and energy,” said Deborah Addo, executive vice president, and chief operating officer, Penn State Health.
As of Wednesday, Penn State Health’s four hospitals had 216 covid patients. That’s approaching the system’s high of 230 back on December 29, 2020.
Penn State Health was one of the hospitals considered for a federal emergency team.
“I walked through the ICU nets this morning. We have about 33 COVID ICU patients and all of them are unvaccinated at this point,” said Dr. Fahad Khalid, chief of the division of hospital medicine, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.
Now, leaders from both systems are begging the public to get vaccinated and follow CDC health recommendations.
“This is not what we’ve seen before. This is a totally new concept as we’re pulling all of these pieces together. And we really do need your help as to get out of this,” Addo said.
The medical response team at WellSpan York Hospital is only scheduled to be there for 30 days, but the lieutenant colonel in charge says they’ll reevaluate things in about a week and a half.