PA: manufacturers called to action, hospital workers prepare for ‘surge’

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HARRISBURG, PA — During a press conference on Monday afternoon, Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Rachel Levine and Gov. Tom Wolf gave an update on how the commonwealth’s medical community was preparing to take in more patients, as the number of confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in PA surpassed 12,000. Levine said that, at that point, about 51 percent of the state’s hospital beds, 40 percent of its ICU beds and nearly 70 percent of its ventilators were still available. She added that 1,613 patients had been hospitalized due to novel coronavirus (COVID-19), accounting for about 12 percent of the infected population; 533 of those patients were on ventilators.

Wolf warned residents that “the surge is coming.” He said that his administration has been trying to find and purchase more medical equipment for hospitals across the state. It hasn’t had much success, however.

“Really, there just isn’t enough supply to meet the demand,” he said.

In attempt to meet such demand, Wolf announced the creation of the Pennsylvania Manufacturing Call to Action Portal to connect the state’s manufacturers with the medical community.

“I’m not sure that any Pennsylvania company can produce the ventilators that we need as rapidly as we need,” Wolf said. “But many can rapidly produce components of ventilators.”

He asked manufacturers, distributors and suppliers to use the portal and report their critical supply chain capabilities. The portal can be reached at www.bit.ly/pacriticalsupplychain.

In Wayne County, Wayne Memorial Hospital has turned a patient unit on the third floor into a “containment unit,” as it continues to treat confirmed and suspected cases of COVID-19. The new unit is equipped with infection-control barriers, negative-pressure rooms which prevents contaminated air from escaping into the rest of the hospital, and decompression changing rooms for hospital staff to safely remove their personal protective equipment before leaving the unit.

In a press release, the hospital’s director of patient care services, James Pettinato, said that it has had enough ventilators to treat patients so far, but that staff is preparing for possible shortages.

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