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Guthrie President Fredrick Bloom speaks during a press conference on Wednesday.

SAYRE BOROUGH — Guthrie administrators held a press conference detailing new developments in the healthcare provider’s services amidst the COVID-19 pandemic on Wednesday.

President and CEO Joseph Scopelliti started the press conference thanking his staff for their tireless work during the crisis, donors and community who have given to Guthrie.

“It’s been very gratifying and supportive in this difficult time,” he said before introducing Executive Vice President Michael Scalzone for an update on Guthrie’s response to the pandemic.

Scalzone said that the Guthrie team does not know how bad the pandemic could get in our area but that his team is preparing for a large number of patients.

“We do currently have some patients in our hospital that have COVID-19 and we have seen in our local communities... there has been some increase in the number of patients that are being diagnosed,” he noted.

The vice president said that he and his team were preparing for the crisis in three main areas: having facilities prepared, staff ready and having enough equipment. Some Guthrie facilities are prepared for a 100% increase in number of patients while most are able to handle at least 50% more.

Guthrie has also increased staff and training for their workforce in order to combat the crisis.

“We feel confident that we have adequate supplies to take care of our patients,” he said on the issue of equipment.

Guthrie President Fredrick Bloom then joined the conference to announce the expansion of telehealth or virtual healthcare at Guthrie. Dr. Bloom said that over the past three weeks Guthrie has increased the number of offices that can provide telehealth to over 400 physicians and advance practice providers. The move to telehealth was brought on by the crisis, but Bloom noted that the expansion of telehealth would be a growing part of healthcare in the future.

“These visits are very helpful now, but they will be even more important in the future as we look at how medicine is practiced,” Bloom noted.

Bloom also added that Guthrie is taking precautions on the ingress and egress of patients in the hospital to limit possible transmissions of the virus.

Also in the conference, Dr. Lawrence Sampson announced that Guthrie would be further postpone non-emergency surgeries until May 1.

Before the end of the conference Scopelleti and Scalzone warned the public not to panic in the midst of nightly news reports of hot spots and thousands of deaths in the country. Scalzone remarked that the vast majority of the cases of COVID-19 will not threaten the infected person’s life.

“While it is very scary not to know, I do want to reassure people that 95% of the tests we do on patients with those concerns come back negative for COVID-19. And even for those who do have the coronavirus infection, most of the time it is a mild case.”

Guthrie has also made information lines about the COVID-19 virus available on weekdays and Saturday. The lines are staffed by Guthrie team members who are prepared to answer questions related to the virus and can be reached at either (844) 357-2840 or (800) 836-1925.

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