The Lead

Health Dept. adds regional long-term care sites to COVID-19 hospital support initiatives

By: - January 31, 2022 3:52 pm

Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter (Capital-Star screen capture).

In an effort to further relieve the pandemic-induced strain on Pennsylvanian’s already stressed health care systems, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced the addition of four new long-term care sites situated across the commonwealth. 

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

Klinepeter added that it would also help “already exhausted” health care workers who have been caring for patients with COVID-19 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 individuals 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 figure out how best to “recruit and retain” quality healthcare staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Establishing these long-term care support sites will benefit hospitals and nursing homes caring for high numbers of patients with COVID-19,” 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 state data. 

Within the next seven to 10 days, the regional support sites will open at skilled nursing facilities across the commonwealth, including:

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

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

General Healthcare Resources (GHR) is providing the sites with clinical staff, including RNs, LPNs and CNAs, while the commonwealth’s national guard will provide non-clinical staffing support, the department said. Pennsylvania’s Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) will orchestrate the efforts. 

Pennsylvania Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler said that the new initiative will utilize 60 guard members split into teams. 

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

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry. Miller is currently pursuing her master’s degree in professional journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to her role at the Capital-Star, Miller enjoys working on her independent zines, Dead Air and Infrared.

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