Hospital leadership participates in planning sessions

Medically necessary, time sensitive surgeries and procedures to resume May 11th

Early in the response to COVID-19, Punxsutawney Area Hospital was challenged with the planning for a surge of patients. As hospital officials continue to monitor the projected peaks of occurrences and are caring for fewer cases then originally projected by experts nationally, the hospital officials are now planning for the return of normal surgical and procedural services. We will be populating our surgical schedule beginning May 11th for a ‘back to normal operation’”, announced Dr. Kyle Lingenfelter, Chief of Surgery at the Punxsutawney Area Hospital.

“Due to the risk of mortality, morbidity, and resource consumption, the hospital will only be doing surgeries on COVID-19 patients in an emergency,” indicates Dr. Lingenfelter. As the hospital prepares for the restoration for normal surgical care at the hospital visitor restrictions will remain in place. Rigorous medical evaluations of visitors, patients and staff will continue. “We are not letting our guard down”, stated Daniel Blough, CEO of the Punxsutawney Area Hospital, “Throughout this pandemic we have been able to maintain employment for our 390 employees as a result we are ready to reinitiate all of our services in a timely manner”.

 

Across PA, patients have been prevented from undergoing life and health enhancing procedures during this time of caution. As hospital enters into new phases of the pandemic, hospital officials are creating a path to resuming normal surgical and procedural services. “The Punxsutawney Area Hospital is working in conjunction with the CDC and PA Department of Health as well as the Hospital Association of Pennsylvania and American College of Surgeons to ensure patient and staff safety”, Lingenfelter continued.

Creating a path forward to resuming surgical and other procedures will incur challenges, but the Punxsutawney Area Hospital leadership is up for the task.

All of our activities are focused on ensuring patients and families are safe. Like the state roll outs, the hospital will be introducing a series of procedures all designed and guided by evidence based research from the CDC and American Association of Surgeons.

The planning process includes a multitude of elements to consider, one of which is personal protective equipment( PPE). This includes an adequate inventory, a conservation plan, and the accessibility to a reliable supply chain without delay. With an adequate amount of ICU and medical surgical beds, the highly trained staff at Punxsutawney Area Hospital will continue to be prepared to provide care in all stages of treatment. The plan will begin with initiating outpatient and ambulatory cases first, followed by inpatient surgeries.

 

Being mindful of and in anticipation of a second wave of COVID-19 cases, Punxsutawney Area Hospitals remains vigilant in monitoring the capacity for treating patients on campus. Plan for prioritization of procedures, including the capacity to perform sequela procedures as necessary with an allocated procedure times that allows for proper disinfection is being established. Over the course of the entire pandemic, hospital leadership has maintained a working document which ensures the capacity of adequate conditions of safety, PPE, supplies, and medications.

 The Punxsutawney Area Hospital, along with the CDC and PA Department of Health, are continuing to urge the community to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Migration of the spread of Covid-19 is an important step to assuring employee and patient safety. A limiting of access to the facility or areas within the facility for visitors while maintaining six-feet of social distancing, facial coverings, and other infection prevention steps in visitor common areas will remain in place on campus.

 Protective equipment and supplies will continue to be worn and utilized as necessary to ensure staff and patient safety. This may require patients, visitors, and staff to wear masks and other appropriate PPE when engaging in patient care and interaction. Extensive cleaning procedures are in place for the disinfection of all common and procedural areas.

 Pennsylvania is extremely diverse in its geography and population densities. A uniform statewide approach is not an adequate account for the variety of local and regional variables necessary for resuming surgeries, Jefferson County only reports 4 covid positive cases to date. Hospital leadership and the medical staff are looking forward to a return to normalcy in this evolving pandemic.

 “We have always managed viral illnesses and now more than ever, because of our initiatives, our patients should feel comfortable entering the facility. We made the necessary changes to prepare for the surge of Covid patients in case it happened, as a result, the processes at the hospital are better today and in the future”, stated Dr. Kyle Lingenfelter.