At a teleconference held on November 19, Mark Norman, Chief Operating Officer at Penn Highlands Healthcare (PHH), announced that Penn Highlands is now offering rapid testing for COVID-19 which can provide results within 24 hours or less.
“We have an adequate supply of the rapid tests at this time, but that could change due to demand or increases in virus cases,” he said.
Norman said a person should seek the test if they have the following COVID-19 symptoms:
-Loss of taste or smell
-Shortness of breath
-Diarrhea or vomiting with any of the other symptoms.
Someone should also seek a test if they believe they have been exposed to a COVID positive person.
In our area, the tests are available at the Q-Care facilities in DuBois, Clearfield, Punxsutawney, and St. Marys.
“Patients can walk in to any of these facilities, get a provider’s order, and receive a rapid test if they have symptoms or been exposed,” Norman said.
For other types of COVID-19 tests, people should contact their personal care physician or use the PHH MyHealthNow app, Norman added.
Dr. Shaun Sheehan said people who are awaiting test results should self-quarantine until they are received. (See the flyer below with suggestions for those awaiting results.)
Despite the increase in COVID numbers, Dr. Sheehan said people should not put off seeking medical care. He added that so far, the flu numbers have not been high. He said that the southern hemisphere of the world, which is coming out of its winter, saw a decrease in flu cases this year possibly due to the fact that the same precautions for COVID, such as wearing a mask, washing hands, and social distancing, are also effective against the flu.
As far as Thanksgiving gatherings are concerned, Dr. Sheehan suggested getting a flu shot before the holiday. He also suggested shopping online or using using delivery or curbside whenever you can. Wearing a mask correctly and washing hands often are also recommended.
“The way to beat this is for everyone to wear a mask, social distance, wash their hands, and avoid large group gatherings,” he said. If you gather in a large group, he added, try to hold that gathering outside.
When asked where the increase in cases where coming from, Dr. Sheehan said that data from this fall shows a community spread from large group gatherings, especially those involving alcohol where people are less likely to follow COVID-19 protocols.
When it comes to numbers, there are 35 COVID cases being treated at four PHH facilities in this area, including DuBois, Brookville, St. Marys, and Clearfield. There are special COVID-19 units in DuBois and Clearfield.
Both Norman and Sheehan emphasized the safety at their facilities for patients and staff, and that people who need health care should not delay in seeking that care.
PHH will not hold a teleconference next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday unless the situation warrants it.