The Lead

Pa. Health Department, PEMA coordinate COVID-19 regional support sites, Wolf says

By: - January 7, 2022 2:12 pm

Gov. Tom Wolf wears a mask during a briefing at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management headquarters in Harrisburg. Source: Commonwealth Media Services.

With a steep increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, Pennsylvania medical and nursing facilities could see relief as soon as next month, as the Wolf administration coordinates strike teams and regional support sites to address staffing and capacity limitations.

Gov. Tom Wolf said Friday that the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency are working on sending additional support and resources to facilities most affected by a recent COVID-19 surge.

“We’re organizing these support sites and strike teams in response to calls for help from the healthcare community,” Wolf, who asked for federal assistance in response to hospitals operating with limited resources and staffing restrictions last month, said in a statement released by his office.

The plan includes adding hospital beds at each regional site to increase capacity for 60 days, beginning in February, and staffing them with physicians, respiratory therapists, and nurses. The Health Department plans to send additional staff directly to hospitals based on identified needs over the next three months.

The Wolf administration said it plans to seek reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the strike teams. Pennsylvania also requested 1 million rapid, at-home COVID-19 testing kits and an increased allocation of monoclonal antibodies.

“While these efforts will relieve current strains on the healthcare system, we hope every Pennsylvanian will continue doing their part so that care is available when their loved ones need it,” acting Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter said in a statement. “With targeted healthcare staffing support and communities rallied in support by wearing masks, getting vaccinated with boosters, and staying home when sick, we will come out of this with fewer losses.”

Since the pandemic began, at least 2 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Pennsylvania, and more than 37,000 have died statewide, according to state data.

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