Frequently Asked Questions

 

Mount Nittany Health Preparedness

Do you test for COVID-19 at Mount Nittany Health?

Mount Nittany Health is following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for screening patients. If a patient matches the criteria, Mount Nittany Health works with the Department of Health and commerical labs to perform and confirm COVID-19 tests and results.

What steps is Mount Nittany Health taking related to COVID-19?

The health and well-being of our staff, patients and visitors is our top priority. Mount Nittany Health is working closely with public health officials and other community health agencies to monitor local conditions related to COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Staying informed - We are continuously monitoring the outbreak as it evolves through the CDC, Pennsylvania Department of Health, and other expert sources.

Signage - Signage is posted at Mount Nittany Medical Center and Mount Nittany Physician Group for registration/waiting areas asking patients to promptly notify staff if they have a risk factor for exposure to Coronavirus.

Collaboration - Our team has been working on education and preparedness, included providing a comprehensive grand rounds education session attended by hundreds of Mount Nittany Health staff and community organizations, posting current CDC and Department of Health (DOH) information on our website, coordinating with the DOH regarding patient testing and reporting protocols, planning with state and local emergency management agencies, participating with Penn State’s planning task force, providing daily updates at patient safety huddles, and working through treatment and testing decisions with providers around specific patients.

Does Mount Nittany Health have a plan for managing a pandemic?

Yes. Mount Nittany Health has a plan to manage a pandemic like COVID-19 . We have practiced this plan and are now executing on it to manage our resources effectively. This includes initiating a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Team (CPRT), which meets regularly to plan on how we can meet the needs of our patients today while planning how to manage the potential of a dramatic increase of patient volumes in the future.

We are also connecting with local, state and national partners, as well as our healthcare colleagues across the region and state. Decisions are made to protect our patients and staff while also doing our part to help contain rapidly progressing pandemic by:

  • Strictly adhering to infection & prevention control policies
  • Continuing the education of employees and staff
  • Rescheduling elective/non-essential services to ensure we have the supplies we need to take care of patients that need immediate care
  • Limiting the number of people in our facility through temporary visitor restrictions
  • Implementing screenings and temperature checks for anyone who enters Mount Nittany Health’s facilities
  • Extending masking requirements to patients and visitors at all Mount Nittany Health facilities

Do I need to cancel my appointment or test?

As the situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve, we have implemented additional measures to protect our patients and staff, and to ensure continued access to essential health services. 

We are calling and rescheduling patients with non-essential/elective services and screenings that are scheduled at Mount Nittany Medical Center and Mount Nittany Physician Group between now and May 8. Please note that this applies to elective services and screenings only. Current operations will continue for individuals who require emergency and acute services and are in active treatment at both the Medical Center and Physician Group practices. We will contact you if there is a need to reschedule.

Do you have visitor restrictions?

Mount Nittany Health is committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of our community. In doing so, we are limiting the number of people in our facilities through the following visitation restrictions until further notice.

Visitors for hospitalized patients at Mount Nittany Medical Center will no longer be permitted, except for special circumstances.

In addition, one caregiver may accompany patients at Mount Nittany Physician Group locations, CANCER CARE PARTNERSHIP, and all hospital outpatient departments at the Medical Center and off campus, if needed. One caregiver may accompany patients at the emergency department when possible. Please be aware that depending on the circumstances, you may be asked by our staff to find an alternative place to wait, such as your vehicle. 

We understand the importance of the support of friends and family to the healing process and we are taking these steps in the interest of your health and the health of the community. We strongly encourage you to use other forms of support where possible, such as phone calls and video chats using cellphones or other mobile devices. We are sensitive to the impact of these restrictions. We believe this measure of protection is essential in the interest of safety.

For any questions regarding inpatient visitation or outpatient visits at the Medical Center and Emergency Department, please call 814.231.7000. For questions regarding accompanying patients to a scheduled appointment at Mount Nittany Physician Group practices, please call the practice directly. A complete listing of phone numbers is available on our website.

Are we screening people before they enter Mount Nittany Health facilities?

Yes, all employees, providers, patients and others accessing Mount Nittany Health facilities aew screened before entering. This new screening process is another measure that Mount Nittany Health is taking to protect our patients, staff and community against the spread of COVID-19.

The screening process will include key questions based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Temperature checks will be available.

During the screening, the following questions will be asked.

  • Have you had cough, fever, shortness of breath or loss of taste or smell in the last 24 hours?
  • Have you been diagnosed or are you currently awaiting test results for COVID-19 in the past 7 days?
  • Have you traveled recently?
  • Is your temperature equal or greater than 38⁰ C (100.4⁰ F)?  If it is an abnormal temperature, please recheck with a different thermometer.

Screenings at Mount Nittany Medical Center
All employees, patients, providers, and others are screened before being permitted to enter any entrance of the Medical Center. All vehicles, except emergency vehicles and patients traveling to the emergency department (ED), are stopped for a screening, then directed to turn to the right to access any entrance of the Medical Center, including: the main entrance, auditorium entrance, Lance and Ellen Shaner Cancer Pavilion, entrance C, the Shared Services Building, loading dock entrance, parking garage and the cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation entrance. All traffic is now one-way to access any entrance of the facility, except the ED. The ED is screening Emergency Medical Service personnel and ED patients at the ambulance and ED entrances.

Screenings at all Mount Nittany Health facilities, including Mount Nittany Physician Group
Screenings have also been extended to all employees, providers, patients and others accessing any Mount Nittany Health facility, including all Physician Group and outpatient locations, and Bellefonte Corporate Services. Screenings take place at the entrances to these locations.

Our team will work as quickly as possible to safely and effectively complete the screenings; however, patients and visitors should prepare accordingly and allow extra time for this process.

Does Mount Nittany Health have a COVID-19 test collection site?

Yes, Mount Nittany Health has two test collection sites:

Mount Nittany Health continues to rigorously follow guidelines from the CDC, including how test samples are collected and the proper wearing of personal protective equipment by staff at this site.

Is Mount Nittany Health conducting contact tracing investigations?

Since March, Mount Nittany Health has been partnering with the Penn State College of Medicine to conduct local community contact tracing investigations for positive COVID-19 patients. This process involves contacting patients to determine if they are willing to participate and then conducting interviews to identify a list of potentially exposed people. Click here to learn more from Carrie Hanley, PhD, MPH, CIC, epidemiology, Mount Nittany Health Infection Prevention Control manager.

How can I gift supplies or food to Mount Nittany Health and its employees?

We are deeply moved by the outpouring of support from our community. Part of what makes our community so special is the way we care for each other in times of crisis and this has been displayed over and over again during this pandemic. Click the links below for more information on how to give supply or food gifts:

To learn more about the Mount Nittany Health COVID-19 Response Fund and donations, visit foundation.mountnittany.org

Does Mount Nittany Health require patients to wear a mask at its locations?

As an additional measure to protect patients, staff and community members against the spread of COVID-19, Mount Nittany Health has issued a masking requirement to patients and essential caregivers at all Mount Nittany Health locations, including Mount Nittany Medical Center and all Mount Nittany Physician Group offices.

All patients and essential caregivers must wear a mask when accessing a Mount Nittany Health facility. Patients who are feeling short of breath or are otherwise unable to tolerate a mask and children under the age of two will not be required to wear a mask.

Patients and essential caregivers are encouraged to wear their own masks from home. If needed, masks will be provided by the health system’s screening teams before patients and essential caregivers enter the facility; the masks should be reused as long as possible.

Does Mount Nittany Health offer telehealth visits?

  • Mount Nittany Health offers telehealth visits for Mount Nittany Physician Group patients. Telehealth visits are essentially office visits conducted through the use of a mobile device or computer. As “two-way” visits, patients and providers and see and hear one another throughout the visit. For more information, visit mountnittany.org/telehealth.
  • Mount Nittany Health also offers telehealth visits with the Mount Nittany Medical Center Emergency Department.  To learn more, visit mountnittany.org/virtualER.

About Coronavirus

What is Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

There is a new type of Coronavirus (COVID-19) causing an ongoing outbreak of respiratory illness that originated in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China. There have been a number of cases reported globally, including the United States.

COVID-19 symptoms may range from mild to severe illness and death. Symptoms may appear 2 to 14 days after exposure and include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of these symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet)
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • Through contact with contaminated surfaces

Travelers returning from a country that has a Level 3 Travel Health Notice should stay home for a period of 14 days and self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms such as fever, cough or trouble breathing. If you become sick, call 1.877.PA.HEALTH (1.877.724.3258) and your doctor's office/emergency room before visiting.

What causes Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
  • • Through a person’s contact with contaminated surfaces and then touching his or her own mouth, nose, or possibly eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

What are the symptoms & warning signs of coronavirus?

Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus cases. These symptoms include:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Sore throat

The symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

  • If you believe you are exhibiting the symptoms of Coronavirus, call 844.278.4600 or your family doctor immediately to be assessed over the phone.
  • Your doctor will inform you if you should come in to their office or to the hospital for further testing.
  • Upon arrival, please wear a protective mask.
  • If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately. Emergency warning signs include:
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face

This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

Who is most at risk for becoming seriously ill?

COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on currently available information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

  • People aged 65 years and older
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Other high-risk conditions could include:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    • People with diabetes
    • People who have serious heart conditions such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathies and pulmonary hypertension
    • People with chronic kidney disease being treated with dialysis
    • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
    • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
    • People of any age with severe obesity
    • People with chronic liver disease, including cirrhosis
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk

What does “flattening the curve” mean?

"Flattening the curve" is when preventive measures are put into place to slow or stop the number of new cases during an outbreak like COVID-19. Based on experiences from other countries and past epidemics, preventive measures such as social distancing and quarantines help to accomplish this goal.

What is social distancing?

Social distancing is when you put space between yourself and others. This can help slow the spread of COVID-19.

  • Stay home as much as you can
  • Avoid public spaces
  • Keep at least 6 feet between you and others if you must go out
  • Don't attend or host large gatherings
  • Avoid using mass transit

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

Quarantine is when a person who has been exposed to someone who has COVID-19 at is at home to limit community exposure and to see if the person becomes sick.

Isolation is when a person sick with COVID-19 is separated from people are not sick to avoid spreading illness.

What is community mitigation?

Community mitigation plans are steps that are taken on a larger scale to slow the spread of disease.

What is community spread?

Community spread means multiple people have been infected with a contagious disease in an area where people are not sure how or where they became infected. The source of the infection is unknown.

How to Protect Yourself

How do I practice everyday precautions?

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If you do not have access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand rub that contains at least 60% alcohol.
    • Did you know? Singing or humming two rounds of “Happy Birthday” equals 20 seconds.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing, then throw the tissue away
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
  • Stay home if you are sick
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Practice social distancing
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others. Click here to learn how to properly wear and take care of cloth face covers.

Do I practice safe hand hygiene?

Regular and consistent hand washing is crucial to help prevent the spread of infection. Follow the steps below to perform a good hand wash:

  1. Moisten your hands with warm, running water.
  2. Apply enough soap to produce lather.
  3. Vigorously rub all hand surfaces together for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  4. Rinse hands under warm, running water.
  5. Dry hands thoroughly using paper towels.
  6. Use a paper to turn off the faucet.

Note: Soap and water are not always available, but it’s important to prepare for times like these by keeping an antiseptic hand rub in your car, desk, or purse. Spread thoroughly over your hands and rub until dry.

Do I need to wear a mask or respirator in public?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wear a cloth face mask over the nose and mouth to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. A cloth face mask is not intended to protect the individual wearing the mask, but it may prevent the spread of virus to others. Because someone may be infected with COVID-19 and not show symptoms, wearing a cloth face mask is especially important in preventing the spread. According to the CDC, a cloth face mask should be worn in public settings (i.e. grocery stores), while medical masks and N-95 respirators are reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders. For more information and to make your own cloth face mask, click here.