Elective surgery to resume at Penn Highlands Healthcare

At the April 28 Penn Highlands Healthcare (PHH) teleconference with the media, Chief Operating Officer Mark Norman announced that his facilities will begin the process of providing elective surgeries.

“This is great news for our patients,” he said.

Penn Highlands is responding to Governor Tom Wolf’s announcement yesterday that elective surgeries could resume immediately.

Dr. Russell Cameron, PHH Chief Medial Officer, stated during the session that Penn Highlands gave input to the Governor’s task force on reopening the state in regards to health care.

“This gave our region a voice so that specific consideration was given to ensure the safest care was given to patients in our region,” Dr. Cameron stated.

COO Norman announced that because PHH did not see a large influx of patients, the dedicated COVID-19 unit on the fourth floor at the DuBois facility will be transitioning back to its previous function as of tomorrow (April 29).

“Any future in-patients whose COVID results are pending or confirmed COVID-19 patients will be kept separate from other patients. We will continue to utilize the same safety precautions that have been implemented,” Norman said.

Visitor restrictions and other safety measures that were established at the beginning of the outbreak will remain in place.

Norman emphasized that his staff continues to monitor volumes and staffing levels at all the facilities. He added that the facilities are safe and that they have adequate personal protection equipment (PPE) on hand.

“…we’re open and ready to care for our patients,” he said.

For his part, Dr. Shaun Sheehan, who chairs the PHH COVID-19 task force, outlined the types of symptoms and conditions that should not be ignored, and he encouraged patients not to delay seeking treatment at the emergency room.

He mentioned cardiac related cases, including those who may be suffering chest pain; breathing issues, such as COPD and asthma as well as shortness of breath. He also mentioned those who may have stroke symptoms such as sudden numbness or weakness, slurred speech, dizziness, and the sudden onset of confusion. He said that when it comes to stroke, time is of the essence.

“It can’t wait,” he said.

Dr. Sheehan also mentioned accidents and orthopedics. He said that if the injury continues to get worse instead of getting better after a few hours, seek care.

Those suffering from behavioral and mental health issues should not delay seeking care, he added.

When asked for a timetable concerning the call-back of employees who were furloughed two weeks ago, COO Norman said it depended on the volume of patients as the area reopens.

As far as testing is concerned, Dr. Cameron acknowledged the difficulty that’s being experienced nationwide in obtaining tests, but he added that Penn Highlands is working on getting its own in-house testing capabilities.

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