Guthrie on recent COVID-19 surge: ‘We’re ready’

Guthrie Executive Vice President and Chief Quality Officer Dr. Michael Scalzone is pictured while talking about the organization’s preparations for the recent surge in COVID-19 cases in a video sent out Friday.

Bradford County has had 305 confirmed COVID-19 cases since the beginning of September, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, more than quadrupling the number of positives that had been reported in the county up to that point.

As more patients have come through Guthrie’s doors with this surge over the past month-and-a-half, Executive Vice President and Chief Quality Officer Dr. Michael Scalzone said the organization has been ready.

“Back in the spring, we did a lot of preparation for a surge of patients like this,” he explained. “We knew that this could happen. We knew it was going to be complicated. Because of that, we we’re ready. Our hospital is ready. Our offices are ready.”

Part of this preparation included increasing the supply of personal protective equipment through multiple suppliers while also making sure they can take care of routine care in addition to COVID patients. In addition, there have been limitations on visitation.

“We understand this very hard for those hospitalized and the families of those who are in the hospital,” Scalzone explained, “but it’s something we had to do in order to keep everyone safe.”

COVID patients are currently housed in special units where they and the staff that provide their care can remain isolated from the general population.

“Doing this does have somewhat of an impact on other parts of hour hospital, so we’re always looking forward and trying to anticipate what may happen during this busy season in the fall with other respiratory illnesses like the flu, and we may need to modify our operations even further should it become busier with more COVID admissions,” he said.

As positive tests have increased, so have asymptomatic cases. Because those who are not experiencing any symptoms are more likely to transmit the virus, Scalzone stressed the importance of mask wearing, social distancing, and hand washing in order to protect those more susceptible to becoming severely ill from the virus such as the elderly and those with other medical conditions.

“The majority of people who do get COVID-19 remain mildly symptomatic and have mild illness and that’s very reassuring, but certain populations are at higher risk,” he said.

With the holidays coming up, he warned that people should be careful about large gatherings.

“We understand, this pandemic has been tough on all of us. People are tired and they are weary of always hearing about COVID and always having to be concerned about COVID. Yet, it’s very important that we stay vigilant. We need everyone in the community to help us by doing all of those simple things – good hand washing, wearing a mask, and staying distant. In addition, we are going into flu season, so it becomes especially important this year to get your flu shot. Of course it won’t prevent COVID, but if we can help keep each other safe from the flu, that will be very important.”

As specifics about the pandemic evolve, Scalzone said Guthrie continues monitoring the situation within its own facilities and across the region to make the changes it needs to to keep everyone safe.

As of Friday’s reporting from the Department of Health, Bradford County has had 397 confirmed COVID-19 cases to date, including 147 over the past week and 20 from Thursday’s reporting. No additional cases in the county’s nursing homes or personal care facilities have been reported since Tuesday.

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