Feds Select Hospital and EMS Strike Team Locations to Assist with COVID Cases

Department of Health (DOH) Acting Secretary Keara Klinepeter and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) Director Randy Padfield announced that the federal government has identified York and Scranton based hospitals and emergency medical services (EMS) to receive strike team deployment to support the health care system in Pennsylvania.

“We commend the Biden Administration for taking our requests for support seriously and acting quickly to address health system capacity in Pennsylvania,” said Acting Secretary Klinepeter. “The Wolf Administration has worked closely with the federal government and health systems to provide necessary information for the feds to make their determination of how to best support the commonwealth. However, we know there is still work to be done to support this industry and we will continue to address the needs of hospitals and health care systems to provide the best care to our fellow Pennsylvanians.”

Beginning on or around January 3, Pennsylvania will receive Strike Teams at the Scranton Regional Hospital and WellSpan York to increase acute care capacity by opening approximately 30 additional acute care beds between the selected hospital locations. Key supports include increasing general medical and surgical beds for COVID-19 positive patients and additional staff to work collaboratively with current hospital staff. Additionally, EMS strike teams will be deployed in both York and Scranton to support this increased hospital capacity. The exact number of individuals to be deployed is still to be determined, however all Strike Team members will be deployed to Pennsylvania for 30 days.

“This federal support will help alleviate pressure felt throughout the health system so there is more capacity to treat people who need hospital care,” PEMA Director Padfield said. “We will continue to work with our county emergency managers to ensure needed resources are met on a local level throughout the commonwealth.”

On December 15, the Wolf Administration outlined key support areas needed in Pennsylvania to support our health care systems. Identified supports included critical staffing supports and additional pandemic response support focused on rural areas.

“We continue to work closely across Pennsylvania’s health care community to ensure these federal resources are felt not only in the communities receiving the deployment, but commonwealth-wide,” said Acting Secretary Klinepeter. “We must continue to support the health care community holistically, which means decreasing the number of people presenting at their local emergency departments while providing capacity to increase the number of patients discharged to other facilities when clinically appropriate. The federal support announced today is aligned with these goals, however, we know that this alone will not solve our capacity issues.

“The data is clear, by getting vaccinated against COVID-19, individuals are far less likely to be hospitalized after testing positive. We need all Pennsylvanians to do their part to support their local hospital and get through these winter months. This includes getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, testing when necessary, and staying home if you’re sick.”