Penn Highlands Healthcare’s Commitment To Our Community During The Covid-19 Pandemic

Updated April 6, 2020

As we have communicated with our workforce over the past three weeks, at Penn Highlands Healthcare (PHH) we are working tirelessly to enact preparedness measures in the event that the spread of COVID-19 should pose any threat to our communities. Across every Penn Highlands Healthcare entity and with the engagement of leaders from every unit and department, we have developed responses, plans and precautions to anticipate the possible scenarios for how this virus could affect our area.

Covid-19 Task Force

Penn Highlands Healthcare has developed a system-wide, multidisciplinary COVID-19 Task Force led by PHH System Medical Director of Emergency Services Dr. Shaun Sheehan, who is fellowship-trained in Disaster Medicine and Emergency Medical Services. The Penn Highlands COVID-19 Task Force team includes key representatives from across the Penn Highlands Healthcare system, including physicians, nursing leaders, infectious disease specialists, infection control directors, supply chain managers, system executives, nursing home administrators and home care leaders. The group meets regularly to address the most current needs in response to COVID-19.

A significant decision is the restriction of visitation, except for cases listed below, across all Penn Highlands Healthcare hospitals (Penn Highlands Brookville, Penn Highlands Clearfield, Penn Highlands DuBois West - main campus, Penn Highlands DuBois East - behavioral health campus, Penn Highlands Elk and Penn Highlands Huntingdon). We have also restricted visitation at our two skilled nursing facilities, Penn Highlands Jefferson Manor and Penn Highlands Pinecrest Manor.

Staff Training & Support

Penn Highlands Healthcare is committed to informing our staff, implementing training and securing necessary equipment to manage emergency situations. In the case of COVID-19, communication and training are imperative.

Penn Highlands Healthcare has implemented a system-wide refresher training for staff to review best practices and techniques related to personal protection equipment (PPE), patient safety, staff safety and policies. This training is intended to support the skills staff have learned in past professional training and adapt them to scenarios such as the occurrence of COVID-19.

Penn Highlands Healthcare sends out regular communications to its entire workforce with updates regarding employee health, visitation policies, infection control policies, staffing, equipment resources and all other breaking information as we receive it from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

Community Communication

Penn Highlands Healthcare is committed to keeping the community updated. In close collaboration with Dr. Sheehan and the COVID-19 Task Force, the system’s communications department continually provides updates to local/regional media and via social media with COVID-19 facts and information as they occur on the local, state, and national levels. Until further notice, we also host weekly teleconferences with news media reporters to provide updates across PHH and our service region.

We’ve hosted a teleconference with nearly 50 government officials from across our service region.

Additionally, Penn Highlands has developed a dedicated web page to ensure our community has the most recent information and guidelines regarding COVID-19.

Penn Highlands Healthcare has also developed and posted informational signage at its facilities throughout the health system.

Inpatient Facilities

Penn Highlands Healthcare has restricted patient visitation. Full details are available here.

Penn Highlands DuBois and Penn Highlands Elk Maternity Units have enacted visitor restrictions for the mother to a maximum of one companion.

Penn Highlands DuBois Neonatal Intensive Care Unit has enacted restrictions to only the mother and one support person.

Outpatient Facilities

Penn Highlands Healthcare has recommended to individuals exhibiting possible symptoms of COVID-19 that they contact their primary care physician or utilize services such as Penn Highlands QCareNow or Convenient Care Center (Huntingdon) to limit face-to-face exposure in physician offices, QCare walk-in clinics or other facilities. We offer drive-thru testing at PH Elk and PH Clearfield.

Penn Highlands Healthcare has implemented a telephone referral line for individuals exhibiting possible COVID-19 symptoms to be screened by phone and routed to appropriate next steps for treatment and care.

Penn Highlands Healthcare temporarily permits a maximum of one companion for patients of the following departments or procedures: outpatient surgery, cancer centers and Emergency Department.

Long Term Care Facilities

Penn Highlands Healthcare has temporarily limited visitation at both Penn Highlands Pinecrest Manor and Penn Highlands Jefferson Manor. This includes all skilled nursing and personal care facilities in our healthcare system.

For End of Life situations, visitors are permitted.

Community Programs

Volunteer Services have been temporarily suspended until further notice throughout the Penn Highlands Healthcare system. Penn Highlands has also closed all of its volunteer-managed gift shops.

Penn Highlands Healthcare has temporarily closed the community child daycare at Penn Highlands Jefferson Manor in Brookville.

Penn Highlands Healthcare has temporarily closed its Adult Day Care facility in St. Marys.

Penn Highlands Healthcare has cancelled or rescheduled community events and support groups throughout the health system.

For a full listing of limitations and restrictions, please go here.

We will continue to add to this information as updates occur.