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COVID-19 Patient Admissions Continue to Increase at Mount Nittany Medical Center

by on October 23, 2020 2:42 PM

COVID-19 hospitalizations at Mount Nittany Medical Center reached a new high on Friday.

The College Township hospital reported that as of Friday morning it has 15 COVID inpatients, ranging in age from 23 to 95. The majority are elderly and several are from local long-term care facilities.

Since Oct. 1, Mount Nittany has admitted 34 COVID positive patients, with an average of nine COVID positive inpatients per day. In September it had a total of 16 COVID positive patients admitted in September, with an average of two COVID positive inpatients per day.

Mount Nittany Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nirmal Joshi called the rise in COVID-19 admissions "concerning" and said that over the last two weeks COVID-19 inpatient cases have consistently been in the double digits.

On Oct. 9, the hospital activated its surge capacity plan, rescheduling elective and non-essential surgeries and procedures that require overnight admission. 

"We are also constantly adapting to meet the needs of both COVID-19 positive patients as well as other patients needing care, including those with general medical needs and those scheduled for surgical procedures," Josh said in a statement.

In the spring, Mount Nittany developed a 21-bed specialized unit for treating COVID-positive patients. A spokesperson said earlier this month that unit is in use for times such as now when the hospital has "more than a handful" of COVID patients.

The unit can expand to meet increases in the number of patients if necessary. 

Mount Nittany Medical Center is licensed for 24 intensive care unit beds and can provide care for up to 40 patients needing ventilators. In total, the hospital is licensed for 260 beds.

Centre County has seen an overall downward trend in new COVID-19 cases in the past two weeks. Between Oct. 9 and Friday, the county had 586 new cases. For the two weeks prior to that there were 1,091 new cases.

After more than a month of having the highest of any county in Pennsylvania, Centre County's incidence rate also has continued to drop. For the last week, the county had an incidence rate of 125.3 cases per 100,000 people, ninth highest in the state, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health's early warning monitoring dashboard. The county's positivity rate also dropped to 4.9%, just below the statewide average of 5%.

But cases among nursing and personal care homes have seen a steady uptick, with 47 new positives among residents and seven among employees over the past two weeks. Twelve long-term care facilities have now had a combined 100 resident cases and 39 employee cases, as well as at least 11 of the county's 16 COVID-19 deaths, according to the health department.

Two of Centre County's 59 new cases reported on Friday were among nursing and personal care home residents.

"Although recently reported trends reflecting a decline in overall community cases is encouraging, increased cases and hospitalizations among vulnerable elderly populations is cause for concern," Joshi said. "It is also a reminder to be even more vigilant and thoughtful in consistently practicing preventive measures, including masking, social distancing and frequent hand washing.”

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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