Geisinger’s occupancy rates for COVID-19 patients are “critically high” at many of its hospitals while Evangelical Community Hospital’s chief executive officer called on the public to be more cautious as the disease spreads through the Valley and beyond.

There were 62 patients hospitalized for COVID-19 at Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, as of 10 p.m. Tuesday, the latest data available from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Twenty-four of the patients were in intensive care and 11 on ventilators, according to the state data.

There were 12 COVID-19 patients, three in intensive care, at Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital, and five patients at Geisinger-Bloomsburg Hospital, the data shows.

As of midnight Wednesday, there were 171 patients hospitalized across the entire Geisinger hospital system including one additional patient at both the Danville and Bloomsburg hospitals, according to Joseph Stender, media relations specialist.

“Many of our hospitals are operating at critically high occupancy rates. Because of this, we are activating plans made in the spring to create adequate staffing and bed capacity,” according to a statement from the hospital system. “Despite these increases in our communities and our hospitals, we continue to use learnings from the first wave to safely treat non-COVID illnesses and we have taken countless measures to ensure we can continue delivering care in a safe environment.”

Evangelical in Lewisburg had more than 20 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Wednesday afternoon, according to the hospital’s president and chief executive officer, Kendra Aucker. That includes patients in the Emergency Department who haven’t yet been counted among patients admitted to the hospital.

“Currently we have five COVID-19 patients in the Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU). We have several patients waiting for ICU beds. COVID numbers are the highest they have been with over 20 patients hospitalized,” Aucker said Wednesday afternoon.

Evangelical is adding ICU beds and expanding inpatient services as appropriate, Aucker said. In order to staff these beds, the hospital had to shutter and compress some services.

“The public needs to have patience during this time but it also needs to be more prudent in managing the spread. COVID-19 is in our region and like all health care providers across the state, Evangelical’s resources are being stretched,” Aucker said.

“We are nimble and will modulate staff and services as much as possible, but we cannot be in this crisis alone. We need the help of every member of the communities we serve. Do your part to care for others and follow state and hospital guidance to mitigate the spread,” Aucker said.

Geisinger, Evangelical Community Hospital and Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way host a public forum about COVID-19 at 6:30 p.m. Thursday on Zoom and Facebook Live. Local health care providers and hospital administrators will address the impact of the pandemic on the Valley. For more information and to join the event, visit www.gsvuw.org/healthforum.

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