Department of Health adds regional long-term care sites to COVID-19 hospital support initiatives

In an effort to further relieve pandemic-induced pressure on Pennsylvania’s already stressed healthcare systems, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced the addition of four new long-term care sites located across the Commonwealth. .

In a briefing with reporters on Monday, Acting Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter said the addition of four regional long-term care support sites “will relieve pressure from hospitals and facilities skilled nursing care” with a high number of patients with COVID-19.

Klinepeter added that it would also help “already exhausted” healthcare workers who have cared for COVID-19 patients for nearly two years.

The regional support sites are intended to be “acute, short-term fixes,” Klinepeter said, adding that they are “not intended to stem long-term issues.” The sites will serve people who are “clinically indicated” to need skilled nursing care.

She added that the department is working with other government agencies and health care facilities to determine how best to “recruit and retain” quality health care personnel during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Creating these long-term care support sites will benefit hospitals and nursing homes that care for large numbers of COVID-19 patients,” Klinepeter said. “COVID-19 hospitalizations remain at historically high levels and healthcare workers need some support to get through this current surge.”

As of Monday, 4,763 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19, according to status data.

In the next seven to ten days, Regional Support Sites will open at skilled nursing facilities across the Commonwealth, including:

  • Vincentian Home in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County,
  • Lutheran home in Holidaysburg, Blair County,
  • Springs at the Watermark in Philadelphia, and
  • Clarview Nursing Home and Rehabilitation in Sligo, County Clarion.

Each site can support up to 30 beds, Klinepeter said, adding that staff should be deployed to sites for 90 days, depending on demand.

General Healthcare Resources (GHR) is providing sites with clinical staff, including RNs, RPNs and CNAs, while the Commonwealth National Guard will provide non-clinical staff support, the department said. The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) will orchestrate the efforts.

Pennsylvania Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler said the new initiative will use 60 Guard members divided into teams.

Since the start of the pandemic, Schindler has confirmed that the Pennsylvania National Guard has been involved in more than 180 support missions.

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