HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The federal government has selected WellSpan York and Scranton Regional Hospital to receive “strike team” deployment, Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) director announced.

This comes after Governor Wolf requested support from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) back on Dec. 15.

“The federal government has responded to Governor Wolf’s request for additional support for Pennsylvania’s health care system and we are now meeting with them daily to finalize support plans,” Klinepeter said. “At this time, we do know that strike teams will be sent to the commonwealth and are working with our federal partners to identify and confirm exact locations and any additional resources.” 

The Wolf administration outlined key support areas needed in Pennsylvania to support the state’s healthcare system during the continued battle of COVID-19.

“Any federal assistance will help relieve some pressure on the health system so there is the capacity to treat people who need hospital care,” PEMA Director Randy Padfield said. 

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Beginning on or around Jan. 3, the York- and Scranton-based hospitals will receive the teams to increase acute care capacity by opening approximately 30 additional acute care beds between the two locations. Some key goals include increasing general medical and surgical beds for COVID-19-positive patients and adding additional staff to work with current hospital staff.

“The Medical Response Team will have physicians will have nurses will have respiratory therapists. The medical assistant’s team is going to have physicians, maybe a physician extender, and they’re going to have some more technicians associated with them,” Randy Padfield, Director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency said. “There’s a regional plan, and this is in support of that plan. So it’s not just helping out these specific institutions, but it’s really helping out the entire region because there are a number of pieces or pieces to the care delivery system.”

abc27 reached out to WellSpan and on Wednesday they issued the following response:

Over the last few weeks, WellSpan Health has been caring for the highest number of confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patients at one time since the start of the pandemic. We are fortunate that a team of clinical resources will be deployed from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support patient care across the system. ​We look forward to learning more about the deployment in the coming days and preparing for the team’s arrival. We are extremely grateful for the support we are receiving from the state and federal government to ensure we are able to provide high-quality care to our friends and neighbors across South Central Pennsylvania. We continue to seek the public’s help in managing COVID-19 spread. Please mask up and take other safety precautions, including getting vaccinated.

WellSpan Spokesperson, Julie Kupchella

The exact number of individuals to be sent to each hospital as a part of the strike teams is still to be determined. However, it has been decided that they will be there for 30 days. To learn more, click here.