Pennsylvania prepared for a surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) —  In an effort to slow the spread of the COVID-19 and make sure our hospital system isn’t overwhelmed, some hospitals in Pennsylvania are doubling the capacity of the number of beds and intensive care units they have, as well as securing more ventilators. 
It’s not all in place today, but plans are in place to be ready for a surge in cases.
Since the first diagnosed case in the commonwealth, more than 316 Pennsylvanians have required hospitalization.

“Approximately 97 of those hospitalized have required treatment in an intensive care unit and about 56 of those individuals have required the use of ventilators,” said Dr. Rachel Levine, Pa. Secretary of Health.

Unlike some states, Levine says Pennsylvania is in good shape right now.

“There are 3,400 licensed ICU beds. 40% are available,” Levine said. “There’s well over 4,000 ventilators available across the state. Approximately 75% are still available.”

Andy Carter, president and CEO of the Hospital and Healthsystem of Pennsylvania says one of the reasons we’re well within our capacity limits is because hospitals began cancelling elective surgeries.
That saves space and supplies, including much needed personal protective equipment.

“Everybody wants to have more than they have, but we do have the structure in place to move equipment and supplies right now when they are needed, Carter said.

Carter says a lot of work is also being done to make sure the community is ready for patients to leave the hospital when they’re recovering.

“Our partners in the nursing home community, they’re setting aside units in those nursing homes that are just for discharged COVID patients,” Carter said.

These are many steps are being taken to first prevent the spread, but ensure the demand can be met if the hospital system needs it.

Again, the best way to support the doctors and nurses on the front lines is to stay home and practice proper hygiene and social distancing.

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