Local healthcare provider gearing up to fight COVID-19

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PLAINS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) We’ve seen the number of COVID-19 cases in Pennsylvania increase on a daily basis.

Critics insist the numbers are still vastly under reported because of the lack of widespread testing.

A triage tent is up outside of Geisinger Wyoming Valley’s emergency department. It was set up last week and at other Geisinger facilities to help screen, test and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

All Geisinger emergency department visitors or patients enter a triage tent to first get screened. From there, they are directed either into a larger tent or inside the hospital for appropriate treatment which could include gathering a patient sample.

“If I swab your nose with a swab to collect a specimen, that isn’t actually testing. I’ve collected a specimen that can then be tested,” said Dr. Gerald Maloney, Chief Medical Officer, Geisinger Health System.

The testing isn’t done here but at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville.

“So far, we have been able to test everyone who has met CDC criteria for testing. I can’t put an actual number on what the maximum amount of tests would be that we could do if everyone that showed up met CDC criteria but so far we’ve been able to test everyone who has qualified.”

When asked, “Would it be hundreds?” Dr. Maloney told us, “You know, I don’t have an answer on that.”

Dr. Maloney says Geisinger‘s supply chain is constantly seeking reagents or chemical test kits needed to perform COVID-19 tests.

“We have again been able to have an adequate supply so far,” said Dr. Maloney.

Having enough personal protective equipment, or PPEs, like protective gowns, masks and gloves is another concern which Dr. Maloney says is monitored daily. With 851 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and counting in the Commonwealth, Dr. Maloney is cautiously optimistic that we’ll soon stem the tide against novel coronavirus and reduce the burden on Pennsylvania’s healthcare systems.

“So, the social distancing, the closing schools and things like that, that people may have been criticized for when they first proposed those ideas. That’s actually probably going to be the best weapon that we have for now and I think that what happens locally is going to depend on all those factors,” said Dr. Maloney.

So just how long will this triage tent set-up exist? Dr. Maloney says as long as the coronavirus crisis remains the problem it is, which he expects to be measured in months and not weeks.

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