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ICU Bed Shortages

According to Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, there are over 1,000 COVID-19 patients in ICU units across the state.

“We have seen that a number of counties in PA have only a few number of intensive care unit beds left or actually no intensive care unit beds left in their county,” she said.

Dr. Levine said a third or more of hospitals in the Southwestern and Southcentral region are expecting staffing shortages within the next week.

To assist hospitals during this time, the secretary of health issued an order requiring hospitals to cut back on elective procedures.

“The Department of State and the Department of Health have issued waivers to allow more health care providers to provide care in Pennsylvania’s hospitals,” said Dr. Levine.

Dr. Levine said there are steps hospitals can take to increase their ICU bed capacity.

You can turn medical procedure beds with the right equipment into ICU beds, more than the bed is often the staffing. So we’re going to need to work with hospitals in the health care region to balance staffing,” she said.

Local hospitals are seeing an impact in their ICU units.

UPMC Altoona released this statement that said, “Our capacity fluctuates continuously in our ICUs and in our other beds as inpatients are admitted and discharged around the clock. At this time, UPMC Altoona is providing all services, our Emergency Department is open and we are prepared to care for all patients who need it.”

Conemaugh hospital also released this statement that said, “Like most hospitals, our bed capacity is fluidĀ  changing nearly hourly. While we have seen an increase in critical care and ventilator-dependent patients the last few weeks, we proactively manage capacity to care for additional critical care patients as the need requires.”

Dr. Levine said what’s happening in our hospitals have a direct impact on the steps you take to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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