Local COVID-19 Preparations Underway

JEFFERSON CO., Pa. (EYT) – With continued increases in the number of COVID-19 cases reported in Pennsylvania, and nearby in Ohio, as well, local officials and healthcare providers are preparing for the possible arrival of the virus in our community.

According to Director of Emergency Services Tracy Zents, Jefferson County has had a plan for the possible event of an outbreak since 2007, and wasted no time putting it into effect.

“With the guidance we’re getting, we’re updating plans daily,” Zents told exploreJeffersonPA.com.

“The situation is very fluid, and things keep changing, and there’s more information being pumped out each day. We’re just trying to make sure we keep on things and make sure we respond appropriately.”

According to Zents, one of the important things is while precautions should be taken, people need to refrain from panic.

“There’s a lot out there, and it’s scaring a lot of people. It’s definitely a serious situation, but we really just want to try to get everyone to be vigilant about good hygiene because that is a key to stopping the spread of this,” Zents noted.

“We will keep monitoring things and will let the community know when there are changes in plans so everyone can be prepared to take whatever action they need to take.”

Local healthcare providers, in the frontlines of this battle, are also making major preparations and changes.

Starting Monday and running weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Penn Highlands Healthcare will offer a service to the public to make it easy for individuals to be screened for symptoms related to COVID-19 right from home.

For anyone concerned they have symptoms or that they’ve been exposed to the virus, the first step is to undergo a screening by calling your primary care provider (PCP), accessing QCareNow at www.phhealthcare.org/qcarenow or by calling the Penn Highlands Physician Network referral line at 814-375-6644.

To any patient who tests positive on the screening, a representative will provide a coupon code for a free virtual visit to QCareNow. There, the patient will be able to speak with one of Penn Highland’s providers who will further assess them to determine whether a test, home health, or any other steps are necessary based on the case.

Penn Highlands Healthcare has also placed the following restrictions on visitation at facilities:

  • Penn Highlands Jefferson Manor and Penn Highlands Elk Pinecrest Manor are restricting all visitors as per the requirements set forth by the CDC and DOH. All necessary vendors must self-screen prior to entering the facility.
  • The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Penn Highlands DuBois and The Maternity Units at Penn Highlands Dubois and Penn Highlands Elk will be limiting the visitation to the mother and significant other/co-caregiver of newborn babies. All visitors to these areas will be screened daily for signs and symptoms, and risks of exposure to COVID-19, including temperature.
  • Pre-school at Penn Highlands Jefferson Manor is closed until further notice.

According to a representative of Penn Highlands Healthcare, they also have a task force in place to respond to the COVID-19 virus situation, and further restrictions are under consideration.

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