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Area hospitals say they’re ‘at or near capacity’

With amplified anxieties and health-care needs surrounding the resurgence of COVID-19, local UPMC and Geisinger professionals are closely monitoring supplies, beds, staff members and the community as they battle challenges that come with hitting patient capacity.

“All of the hospitals are at or near capacity and have been for the last few weeks,” Dr. David Lopatofsky, CMO of UPMC in the Susquehanna Region, said.

“We would continue to emphasize that COVID is very real and it is very dangerous … it is more important than ever to practice health measures, masking, staying home when you’re feeling sick and avoiding gatherings,” he emphasized.

“They work. They are simple and they are critically important and they really make a difference.”

Geisinger, meanwhile, is “experiencing critical supply demands and are activating plans made in the spring to shift resources to meet the needs of the community,” said Marc Stempka, Geisinger media relations specialist.

“Any increased community spread places additional strain on our supplies,” he warned.

UPMC operates Williamsport, Muncy Valley, Lock Haven and Soldiers and Sailors hospitals in northcentral Pennsylvania.

Geisinger operates its main hospital at Danville, plus Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital and is building an outpatient center at Halls Station.

As of Dec. 14, the state Department of Health showed Lycoming County having 86 COVID patients hospitalized with 12 in the Intensive Care Unit; 64 ICU beds that are staffed with zero ICU beds available.

In Clinton County, the agency reported 11 patients hospitalized with zero in the ICU, zero ICU beds available.

However, both expressed optimism in helping patients by moving resources and staffing throughout their extensive health care systems.

“We can do that pretty much within a day, if not within a shift,” Lopatofsky said. “We do that on a regular basis, even before COVID.”

By moving resources more frequently during the resurgence, it has helped provide extra support for nursing staff, Lopatofsky noted.

UPMC teams meet multiple times each day to monitor patients and staff and deal with care.

“Hour by hour, we are looking at internal forecasts for bed use at each hospital and have surge plans in place for each hospital,” Geisinger’s Stempka said.

“In recent weeks we have come up against full capacity at many of our hospitals, and this impacts both COVID and non-COVID patients.

“We continue to use learnings from the first wave to safely treat non-COVID illnesses and we have taken countless measures to ensure we can continue delivering care in a safe environment.”

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