Federal team extending stay at York hospital

A team of 20 medical professionals from the U.S. military plans to spend another 30 days pitching in at WellSpan York Hospital as the facility contends with a spike in Covid-19 cases.

  • The team initially arrived in early January for a 30-day stay. The extension means team members will remain in place until early March, according to WellSpan Health spokesperson Ryan Coyle. 
US Air Force Senior Airman Veronica Alverez, a respiratory care practitioner, works in the cardiac intensive care unit at WellSpan York Hospital. Alvarez is part of a federal strike team helping the hosital during a surge in Covid-19 (photo/US Army).
  • “Their efforts will continue to help with the strain on our healthcare heroes,” Coyle wrote in an email.
  • A second federal team went to a Scranton-area hospital and it is also extending its stay for 30 days, according to Ryan Eldredge, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
  • The teams include doctors, nurses and respiratory care professionals.

Why is this happening: The strike teams arrived amid a surge in hospitalizations related to Covid-19 at WellSpan hospitals in Adams, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties.

  • The system hit a high of 513 hospitalizations on Jan. 1, surpassing the peak of 460 for the winter of 2020-21, according to a WellSpan dashboard.
  • The number of hospitalizations has since fallen to 410, though it is still elevated in comparison to the last year.
  • The extra help has allowed the health system to shift resources among its hospitals to deliver care.

What about other hospitals: WellSpan York is not the only hospital that has been straining to meet the demands of Covid care. Pennsylvania officials have promised broader help and yesterday announced the destination of the first state-backed strike team to assist hospitals.

  • A group of 10 registered nurses is heading to a Grand View Health hospital in Bucks County.
  • The nurses are being provided by GHR Healthcare under a contract with the Department of Health. GHR is a staffing agency based in Plymouth Meeting, a suburb of Philadelphia.
  • The overall contract with GHR is worth $76.5 million.
  • Strike teams will work at designated sites for seven to 14 days and can include nurses, doctors and respiratory therapists.
  • “The intent is that these staff will fill in for a limited time while hospitals develop their own longer-term sustainable staffing solutions,” acting health secretary Keara Klinepeter said in a statement.

-by Joel Berg, editor of biznewsPA

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