Pennsylvania asks FEMA to help deal with COVID surge


Pennsylvania on Wednesday asked the federal government to send medical staff to hospitals and nursing homes that are under increasing pressure due to ongoing staff shortages and the latest COVID-19 surge.

The Wolfe government asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide “strike teams” to hospitals, specialized nursing facilities, and ambulance companies in the worst-hit areas of the state. Pennsylvania also required FEMA to conduct 1 million home rapid coronavirus tests and increase the state’s allocation of monoclonal antibody treatments.

In recent weeks, hospitals and nursing homes across the state have been sounding alarms, as most of the unvaccinated COVID-19 patients are crowded with hospital beds, causing some emergency care facilities to be overloaded. Hospitals reported long waiting times in emergency rooms, and shortages in nursing homes forced some hospitals to stop accepting new residents.

Democratic Governor Tom Wolf said in a written statement on Wednesday: “Our healthcare system is strained by COVID-19 cases and has been further deteriorated by the ongoing shortage of personnel throughout the industry.”

“I hope these vital supports will be addressed to ease the pressure on our healthcare system and ultimately be able to provide Pennsylvanians with the care they need during this time,” he said.

Pennsylvania has an average of more than 8,500 newly confirmed infections every day, an increase of nearly 50% in two weeks. Since last month, the number of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization has increased by two-thirds, averaging more than 4,300 per day. The number of deaths within two weeks also increased by nearly 50%, reaching 89 per day.

Steve Tack, chief executive of Quality Life Services, a family-run long-term care chain in western Pennsylvania, said the pandemic has exacerbated staff shortages, forcing his nursing home to discharge hundreds of inpatients who are about to be discharged. Turned away. To long-term care.

The nursing home rejected 281 referrals last month, which dropped by 89 in the first 12 days of December.

Tucker said that the staff shortage is a two-way street. He said that because the hospital was overcrowded, residents of the intensive care home “stayed in the emergency room for several days.”

Tucker said: “Before the pandemic, staffing must have been under very, very high pressure. Since the pandemic, it has only grown exponentially.” “States like Pennsylvania are now receiving a wave of COVID hospitalizations. Impact, it just put a real magnifying glass.”

When the state asked for federal support, union nurses gathered outside UPMC’s Pittsburgh headquarters on Wednesday to ask the healthcare giant to increase the staffing of its hospital in Altoona, claiming that patients usually have to wait 24 hours to receive care— —And this situation has lasted for more than 50 hours — because of a shortage of care. Nurses represented by SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania stated that UPMC has failed to invest in labor retention.

“When nurses leave our hospital, they need years of experience and dedication, and it is our patients who suffer in the end,” said Sandy Wagner, an ICU nurse at UPMC Altoona.

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UPMC stated that it “never” received a 50-hour wait time report. It also denied having to wait 24 hours in any of its emergency rooms.

But the health system acknowledged that “we are experiencing longer delays and we often use all of our space to provide care”, adding that due to the surge in COVID-19, the increased demand for other types of care, and the fact that other hospitals have been treating patients Transfer to UPMC.

UPMC’s statement said: “In the UPMC system, unvaccinated patients are 7 times more likely to require hospitalization than vaccinated patients in our emergency department, resulting in less urgent needs and longer waiting times in hospitals that are close to full. .”

Meanwhile, on the other side of the state, Philadelphia health officials on Wednesday urged residents to avoid face-to-face holiday gatherings, citing a sharp increase in cases.

Officials said that those who want to stick to their vacation plans should consider asking guests to intensify injections and conduct quick tests before coming. Their request came two days after the city announced the vaccination of restaurants and stadiums.

“We are now entering the most dangerous period since last winter,” said Philadelphia Public Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole.



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