News | Published October 13, 2020

Cautious yet flexible: Mount Nittany Health maintains stability, but challenges remain as COVID-19 cases rise

As COVID-19 cases in Centre County have risen dramatically – with approximately 2,500 new cases reported since the beginning of September – Mount Nittany Health continues its commitment to your safety while looking ahead to challenges that remain on the horizon.

“Given the rise in cases in the county, we must be diligent with containment efforts in our personal lives and within the health system,” said Mount Nittany Health Chief Medical Officer, Nirmal Joshi, MD, FACP.  “We cannot become complacent and we must continue to emphasize the importance of wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing.”

While Mount Nittany Medical Center had a total of 16 COVID positive patients admitted in September, the overall daily census averaged between two and three, with a high of six. We recognize, however, that these patterns have the potential to change quickly. Just recently, we activated a COVID-19 Surge Capacity Plan for the health system due to the increased number of hospitalized COVID-19 positive patients. The Surge Plan calls for adjustments to normal operations, and as a first step in the planning response, includes the rescheduling of non-essential/elective procedures and surgeries that require an overnight admission at the Medical Center.

“Our community case levels remain very high and we are seeing cases and hospitalizations from a range of ages and communities. Everyone must be vigilant and recognize that this significant rise in cases is not contained to specific age groups or locations,” said Dr. Joshi.

Meantime, Mount Nittany Health patient volumes for the first quarter of its fiscal year, July through September, continue to be lower than the same period last year. Inpatient admissions and emergency department visits are down 14 percent and 21 percent respectively, while surgical cases are down nearly 10 percent. These results are consistent with the system’s earlier projections that health care utilization patterns will continue to be impacted by the ongoing pandemic.

Steps taken recently to adjust operations to align with lower volumes have enabled the system to remain financially sound in the face of these challenges. Through constant monitoring and collaboration with others in the community Mount Nittany Health will continue to adapt and be flexible to serve the community.

“These continue to be extraordinary times for our entire community,” said Nichole Monica, director, communications, Mount Nittany Health. “We’ve all had to adjust and we will all need to continue to respond as the local environment changes. Our commitment is to remain strong when the community needs us.”

For more information on how Mount Nittany Health is managing COVID-19 and resources that are available to you, our community members, please visit mountnittany.org/coronavirus.