WellSpan Vice President and Regional Medical Director Mark Goedecker addresses COVID-19 testing started at the York Fairgrounds. York Daily Record
WellSpan Health officials outlined Monday how their region’s hospitals are preparing for an expected surge in coronavirus patients by doubling critical care capacity at its hospitals and taking steps to increase the pool of health care providers.
In a sobering moment during the briefing, now held via teleconferencing, John Porter, executive vice president and COO at WellSpan Health, warned harder times are still ahead.
WellSpan has completed more than 8,000 tests of COVID-19 since they began testing in mid-march. But they’ve only received results for about 7,000 of the tests — 400 have been positive.
Hospital officials said they are bracing for an influx of patients sometime between mid-April and mid-May. The state has recorded 12,980 cases and 162 deaths from the coronavirus as of Monday.
“We have not seen the worst of the pandemic,” Porter said. “We’ve been monitoring the predictions, and there’s widespread agreement that central Pennsylvania will see a significant increase of cases in the coming days and months. Be assured, we are thoroughly and thoughtfully preparing for the strain it will put on our hospitals.”
Increasing critical care capacity
The overwhelming majority of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 are recovering at home, only a small percentage are being treated in the hospitals.
Even so, for weeks officials have been discussing how to handle a surge, from expanding critical care beds to ensuring the state has enough medical personnel and supplies to protect them on the job.
WellSpan plans to double its critical care capacity at its hospitals, with an estimated 160 additional ICU beds planned.
This will come from using operating rooms and recovery bay areas not in use due to the organization’s decision to postpone non-urgent procedures and surgeries.
WellSpan Surgery and Rehabilitation Hospital is also suspending services and will shift its focus to providing acute care for non-COVID-19 patients. This will allow more capacity at WellSpan York Hospital for COVID-19 patient care.
WellSpan officials said they currently have adequate supplies and equipment and are actively working with the state and federal governments, and community partners to secure additional supplies – including personal protective equipment, scrubs, masks and ventilators.
Local businesses are joining with WellSpan to make masks and distilleries are providing alcohol for sanitation purposes.
Already, several local distillery owners in the region have curbed regular production of rum, vodka, whiskey, and other spirits to concoct something with less favorable profit margins and, at the moment, exponentially more demand: hand sanitizer.
Increasing the pool of providers
Porter said the network also aims to increase the pool of providers who can care for patients by allowing retired nurses and doctors to volunteer to help out.
Hospitals are redeploying staff to hospitals with the greatest needs and are working to recruit additional support.
“We are tapping into the strength of our current and retired workforce, as well as our neighbors in the community, to reinforce our critical care teams at our hospitals,” he said.
Additional locations for care
Last week, WellSpan Health announced their network of non-emergency care locations for COVID-19 patients would grow to 10 sites across southcentral Pennsylvania by this week.
- WellSpan Adams Health Center, 40 V-Twin Drive, Gettysburg. This care location is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- WellSpan Family Medicine – Cross Keys, 2900 Carlisle St., New Oxford. This care location is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- WellSpan Shippensburg Health Campus, 97 Progress Blvd., Shippensburg. This care location is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.
- WellSpan Urgent Care, 1000 Norland Ave., Chambersburg. This care location is open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., seven days a week.
- Opening Tuesday, April 7: Franklin County: Former Waynesboro Health Center, 12525 N. Welty Road, Waynesboro. This location will be open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week.
- WellSpan Urgent Care, 101 Airport Road, Lititz. This care location is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
- WellSpan Pediatric Medicine – Tuck Street (treats all patients, not just pediatric), 850 Tuck St, Lebanon. This care location is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- WellSpan OB/GYN and WellSpan Pediatric Medicine, 2050 South Queen St., York, will provide primary care services for children and all adults at this site. This care location is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- WellSpan Urgent Care, 4050 N. George St., Manchester. This care location is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
- WellSpan Urgent Care, 96 Sofia Dr., Shrewsbury. This care location is open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.
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