Penn State Health will resume non-emergent surgical appointments and other clinical activities as they continue to monitor the COVID-19 crisis.
Officials said the process will be rolled out 'gradually and systematically' as heightened safety measures remain in effect to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 at all of its facilities.
Penn State Health officials said they will also be carefully monitoring the decision and its supply of personal protective equipment as more counties move to the yellow phase in preparation for any possible future outbreaks.
Those safety measures include:
- Screening of patients prior to their visit to our facilities to limit potential COVID-19 exposure.
- Separate entrances and treatment areas for patients who have tested positive for COVID-19, utilizing specially trained care teams to provide clinical care.
- Social distancing, such as spaced-out seating in waiting rooms and visual markers in hallways and clinics to encourage physical distancing.
- Modified registration, triage and checkout processes for patients to minimize time spent in waiting rooms and other common areas.
- Removal of non-essential items from practice site exam rooms and waiting areas to provide additional infection control.
- Extended office hours in some locations, with staggered staffing shifts, to spread the patient traffic flow over a longer time period and mitigate congestion at our facilities.
- Regular deep cleaning throughout all Penn State Health facilities.
- All clinical staff required to wear protective masks at all times.
- Visitor restrictions at all Penn State Health facilities remain in place, with limited exceptions for end-of-life-care, visits to obstetrical units and neonatal intensive care units, or for those accompanying minors or individuals with intellectual, developmental or cognitive disabilities.
Penn State has limited non-essential surgical procedures like clinic visits since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time period, virtual health programs were offered for patients.
“While we will continue to use telehealth where it makes sense for our patients, we believe it’s time to resume many of the in-person patient care services that were delayed due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Dr. Peter Dillon, Penn State Health’s executive vice president and chief clinical officer. “As we return to a more normalized clinical schedule, we will do so with the health and safety of our patients and caregivers as our highest priority. We are completely confident that we can safely and thoughtfully resume clinical appointments and elective surgeries.”
Penn State Health has treated and discharged more than 150 COVID-confirmed patients since March 16 and has tested more than 11,000 patients.