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UPMC Williamsport, Divine Providence look toward bright future

“COVID-19 was probably the largest and biggest challenge we have ever had and it may be the biggest challenge we will ever have,” Ann Pepperman, UPMC Susquehanna board of directors chairwoman, said in the recent annual call.

Ron Reynolds, UPMC Lock Haven and Muncy president, highlighted many of the Williamsport campus based accomplishments including enhancing telehealth appointments and a multitude of efforts in keeping vulnerable populations safe throughout the ongoing pandemic.

“2020 has unfolded into an unprecedented time in our country,” he said.

He said that one of the best accomplishments for the campus was that it was recognized with advanced accreditation for orthopedic care.

“We remain laser focused to get our patients the right care with the right place at the right time,” he continued.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, he also added that the campus has made serious improvements on their telehealth program, which now has over 300 healthcare providers available on it for over the phone and video chat appointments–which also had over 19,000 visits from the start of the pandemic through the month of June.

The campus also started a program with their EMS and paramedics to help the vulnerable populations get COVID-19 tests in their home, as well as help them with simple routine needs that could easily be done from the home.

The campus has also helped add 34 new positions to medical staff in areas like urology, radiation, orthopedics and pain management.

“UPMC has made the commitment to protect and pay their employees,” he said.

There weren’t any lay-offs during the worst of the pandemic, either.

Reynolds did say that the future is bright for the campus, including expansions to labs, rehabilitation and diagnostic capabilities with moving to a level two trauma center, hopefully next summer.

“Our community will always be in your debt,” Pepperman said.

The members on the call continued by thanking special members on their medical teams, including the EMS team that worked to implement a multitude of protocols not only for the safety of the patients, but for the staff as well.

Patti Jackson, vice president of strategic planning and business development in the Susquehanna region, spoke about how UPMC is also focusing on having representation of all medical fields including prevention, healthy living and mental and behavioral health in emergency departments and within primary care.

She also added that UPMC has significantly increased community benefit dollars this year.

“It makes us proud to be a part of the Williamsport community,” she said. “Together we are stronger, and we work together to create a healthier community.”

In a touching patient testimonial, a local woman named Jackie spoke about her journey being diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant with her first child. She spoke highly of the UPMC staff that helped her regain her strength, as she moves into her second pregnancy.

“At 10 weeks pregnant, I had a double mastectomy,” she said. “I lost a part of my body and myself. On April 22, my baby was born and I was diagnosed with postpartum hypertension. Overall, I have always been an ambitious person, those traits made me a fighter. It was a crazy experience but a positive experience. I am forever grateful.”

Lastly, Steve Johnson, president of UPMC in the Susquehanna region, urged the community to continue to be cautious about the virus.

“I want to acknowledge that our nation, state and region are experiencing some of the highest COVID rates we have seen since the pandemic began,” he said. “We have to continue to take this very seriously. Please don’t give up on wearing your masks, washing your hands and social distancing.”

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