EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) – “If you come to the outside of the hospital, it looks like all is calm. But yet on the inside it’s another story,” Dr. Gerald Maloney, Chief Medical Officer, Geisinger Hospitals
COVID-19 cases are rising higher than seen before.
“The number of COVID that we’re caring for now is over twice what it was at the maximum in the spring. So in the spring in the Geisinger hospitals we had 140 patients, now we’re well up over 300,” Dr. Maloney said.
“Now we are feeling the impacts of the Christmas and the New Year holiday as well so it’s been a rather steady and consistent surge as we’re talking about our winter surge that has impacted all of our hospitals pretty significantly,” Dr. Jodi Lenko, Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine, Lehigh Valley Hospital Hazleton, said.
Dr. Lenko says there are days where Lehigh Valley Hospital Hazleton has gotten close to the point where they would have to turn patients away, but fortunately have not had to do so yet. Doctors say this has been happening in California. They say they have surge plans in place in case they do become too overwhelmed with patients.
“They have shuffled some patients around. So we also partner…Coordinated Health is partnered with us so they have transitioned some of their hospitals in Allentown, that were predominantly orthopedic hospitals now to more we call them med surge hospitals taking care of COVID patients. So we’re shuffling things around,” Dr. Lanko said.
“We’re collaborating with other hospitals across all of our areas. We belong to regional coalitions of hospitals where we have a call once a week where we compare capacity and talk about you know do we have things that need to be shared,” Dr. Maloney said.
But there is further concern of reaching full capacity as a new strain of coronavirus reaches the United States. Health officials say it spreads more quickly.
“The concerning this is that the more people who have a COVID infection, the more people are likely to end up in the hospital. So if this variant is easier to transmit from person to person, that makes this…the masking and the social distancing all the more important,” Dr. Maloney said.
Doctors say one way to help hospitals from getting to full capacity is to get a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to you, which protects against the both strains of the virus. Dr. Lenko addresses concerns people have brought up to her.
“I have myself been fortunate to receive my second vaccine last week. I had no problems. I don’t have the third eye. It is safe. It is effective,” Dr. Lenko said.
Doctors remind people that even after receiving the vaccine, they should continue to follow COVID-19 precautions.