Post Acute Medical finds success with mobile filtration unit

The Biodefense Indoor Air Protection System is created by Houston, Texas-based Integrated Viral Protection. PHOTO PROVIDED.

Enola-based specialty health care system Post Acute Medical became an early adopter for a mobile filtration unit that it says will prove to have been the right investment even after the pandemic is over.

Post Acute currently has two large Biodefense Indoor Air Protection Systems by Integrated Viral Protection in eight of its acute care hospitals. When a COVID positive patient leaves the room they are staying in, the unit can be wheeled into the room where a heated filter catches and kills the virus.

The unit has been so successful for Post Acute that it has orders out to get systems for all 45 of its hospitals in 14 states.

“We usually have at least two large units in each of our hospitals and we position them strategically,” said Anthony Misitano, president and CEO of Post Acute. “They are easy to move and they aren’t heavy. After a patient is discharged you can use this to assist in terminal cleaning to assure that you have removed every virus in the room.”

Post Acute locations in Texas, Florida, Louisiana and Missouri were some of the first facilities in the country to test out the new technology after Misitano reached out to the system’s creator.

“I said why don’t we become a test site for your units and he agreed to that and we put them in three hospitals quickly,” Misitano said. “Because we saw success in the measurements we ordered them for all our hospitals.”

Misitano said that Post Acute has tested both negative pressure rooms and the Biodefense Indoor Air Protection Systems in its hospitals and the air protection systems were significantly more reliable in getting the virus out of a room.

Interest in the unit has grown to the point that Post Acute has yet to see it arrive at its other hospitals but for the facilities already using the units, Misitano said that the sense of ease they give to physicians and families has been priceless.

It is unclear to what extent the health care industry will need to worry about COVID-19 after the majority of the population gets a version of the vaccine, but even if the virus were to be completely eradicated, Misitano said that the Post Acute facilities will find plenty of use for the units.

“Perhaps it will be a seasonal thing like the flu,” he said. “We know that the flu is here on a yearly basis. Even with the flu and the common cold, these units will still be effective in providing a safer environment.”

Gov. Wolf tests positive for COVID-19


Gov. Tom Wolf announced on Wednesday that he has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation at his home in York.

Wolf wrote in a statement that the virus was found during a routine test on Tuesday and that as of now he has no symptoms. The Pennsylvania governor plans to continue his work while in quarantine.

“I am following CDC and Department of Health guidelines. Frances has been tested and, as we await the result, is quarantining at home with me,” he said. “I am continuing to serve the commonwealth and performing all of my duties remotely, as many are doing during the pandemic.”

The governor used his positive case to point out that no one is immune to the virus, noting that even though he has followed all the precautions necessary, it wasn’t a guarantee that he wouldn’t contract it.

“… I ask all Pennsylvanians to wear a mask, stay home as much as possible, socially distance yourself from those not in your household, and, most of all, take care of each other and stay safe,” he said.

Correction: Gov. Tom Wolf lives in York and not Harrisburg, as the story previously mentioned.

Penn State Health prepares for potential second wave of COVID-19

The rush for personal protective equipment, patients unable to seek help at hospitals and varying reports of the incoming wave of COVID-19 created a difficult environment to perform in last March, but Penn State Health predicts a different outcome for a potential second wave.

At the peak of the pandemic, Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center’s operating rooms were working at 25% capacity. The Hershey-based health system suspended its non-emergent surgeries in mid-March, following guidance from both the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the state Department of Health.

The initial drop in patient size was a shock, with the system losing millions of dollars in the past six months, according to Dr. Peter Dillon, Penn State Health’s chief clinical officer.

“We got hit hard. It was staggering,” he said. “We have a very good financial business team and we were fortunate that we didn’t have to lay anyone off or furlough anyone.”

The system began to reschedule its non-emergent surgeries in early May and was able to work a majority of operations back into Milton S. Hershey’s system by keeping operating rooms fully staffed longer into the day.

Prior to the pandemic, Milton S. Hershey had more than 100 operating room cases a day and its occupancy was regularly at 100%, a buffer that was quickly wiped out by the effects of the pandemic, Dillon said.

Pennsylvania hospitals were, for the most part, spared the hurricane of COVID-19 cases that crippled other hospitals in the country.

“We flattened the wave here but it sort of pushed it down and squished it out. It went longer but that was good because we weren’t overwhelmed,” said Dillon. “In the beginning we thought we would be crushed like New York was.”

If the virus flares up again, the concern will be that the wave of cases is so large that it fills ICUs and forces Milton S. Hershey to turn patients away Dillon said. “We are anticipating that and we have protocols in place. We are much smarter now about how to treat these patients.”

If a second wave emerges, Penn State Health will need to evaluate how it will handle certain surgeries and possibly continue some operations that it would have canceled earlier in the year, he said.

The system has made a particular effort to refer to the surgeries it suspended during the virus as non-emergent rather than elective.
An example of that would be orthopedic procedures like severe osteoarthritis of the knee, which, while considered elective, can create further problems if delayed too long.

The first wave of COVID-19 cases did quick work on Milton S. Hershey’s pandemic supply and Penn State Health has been on high alert ever since to ensure that it continues to have a robust supply of personal protective equipment.

Creating a stock of equipment is harder than ever now that so many industries are trying to build their own supply of masks, gloves and other equipment.
The system’s supply chain has become so unstable that in some cases, Penn State Health will only get 20% of whatever it ordered from a supplier.

“We’ve now got processes that go all the way back to raw good distributors,” he said, adding that the system recently purchased woven material for surgical gowns. “It’s fascinating how we’ve changed some of our procurement processes.”

Any potential spike in cases will cause the system to immediately reevaluate its supply chain, looking at the number of masks it has in its supply and what it is using on a day to day basis.

Dillon said something else the system learned in its first go with the virus was to listen to predictions from experts regarding the spread of the virus in the state, but understanding the ever-changing nature of projected models.

“I think what we’ve realized is the complexity of the decision and the factors that go into it but we are more attuned to how to assess those factors to manage the operating room caseload and hospital admissions,” he said.

Coronavirus resources for area employers

Across the web, business associations and governmental organizations are offering vital information for employers as they keep employees and clients safe, manage remote working strategies and maintain their businesses during a nationwide closure.

Employers can use these resources to stay informed about the COVID-19 pandemic.


Pennsylvania Department of Health: For daily counts of confirmed cases in Pennsylvania, press releases and frequently asked questions.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Information on symptoms, the virus’ effect on older adults and people with medical conditions and how to prepare your family. The page also shows the total number of cases by state.

CDC Travel: Information on high-risk countries, tips on traveling in the U.S. and frequently asked questions for travelers.


The U.S. Small Business Administration: Coronavirus: Small Business Guidance and Loan Resources is the landing page for its Economic Injury Disaster Loan program. You’ll find guidance for small business owners regarding the issues they could come across at this time.

HR Compliance Bulletin:  A release from Harrisburg-based Pennsylvania Chamber Insurance that outlines possible compliance issues for employers.

Coronavirus Workplace Tips for Employees and Guidance for Employers: Two CDC reports on how to respond to the spreading of COVID-19.

The Manufacturers’ Association’s Coronavirus Employer Guide: A guide for manufacturing employers with tips on labor relations, international workforces and workplace safety issues.

The National Restaurant Association: You’ll find a list of actionable information such as handwashing infographics, a food safety blog and a “before you come to work” poster.


PA Chamber of Business and Industry: Coronavirus prevention resources from state and national sources.

Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC: a list of members offering support for other businesses.

Lancaster Chamber of Commerce: A source for legal and economic insight and nonprofit resources.


The Central Penn Business Journal; The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; CDC Emergency; PA Department of Health; Pa. Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine; Lancaster Chamber; Pennsylvania Chamber; The U.S. Small Business Administration; Pa. Governor Tom Wolf; Harrisburg Chamber of Commerce & CREDC;

Midstate hospitals detail plans for coronavirus

WellSpan announced on Thursday that it will be using a temporary outdoor patient screening and testing area for patients who may have been exposed to the COVID-19 coronavirus. PHOTO/PROVIDED

The midstate has yet to see its first positive case of coronavirus but with the state’s total number of cases rising to 21 and over 1,200 cases of COVID-19 nationwide as of Thursday morning, area hospitals are looking at which of their employees can work remotely and how many employees their departments need to still operate.

In anticipation for the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its list of infection prevention and control recommendations.

The recommendations ask health care providers to minimize the chance of further exposure to the virus by limiting the points of entry to a facility, instruct patients to call ahead before arriving at a facility if they develop the symptoms of a respiratory infection, prioritize patients with respiratory symptoms and practice the use of hand hygiene, personal protective equipment, eye protection, gloves and gowns.

Local hospital systems have already relayed this information to their staff as early as January and have implemented their own contingency plans to keep employees from contracting coronavirus and spreading it further.

Below is a list of statements from area systems on how they will be handling the virus in relation to their employees:

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health

Penn Medicine will be working with its management teams to determine which of its employees should be working remotely either on a full-time or limited basis, said John Lines, director of public relations and corporate communications for the Lancaster hospital.

“Teams are meeting daily throughout our health system to ensure staff at our physician offices, urgent care sites, emergency department and inpatient settings are prepared to care for coronavirus patients,” Lines said. “As demand for our services evolves, we will ensure the appropriate level of staffing, as well as adequate supplies of respiratory protection, gowns, gloves and other equipment to protect our clinical staff for patient care.”

Penn State Health

The Hershey-based system is utilizing a 14-day self-quarantine for any employees who have traveled to countries with active transmission of COVID-19. Penn State Health plans to continue its normal operation procedures for as long as possible, but has plans in place to manage patients with special illnesses.

Employees can utilize their disability and leave benefits if a sustained outbreak occurs, said Barbara Schindo, media relations specialist at Penn State Health.

“We are continuously reviewing our policies about pay practices and sick time as the situation evolves,” Schindo said. “Should any employees need to take leave because of suspected or confirmed COVID-19, our Employee Health Department will work with affected employees to ensure they return to work at a point when it’s safe for the employee, their colleagues and our patients.”

WellSpan Health

WellSpan is actively developing contingency plans for the York health system that include deciding what levels of staff are needed to support its care facilities and support departments.

The system is limiting group meetings, discontinuing business-related travel beyond its service area and will also be looking into which of its employees can work from home.

WellSpan is still assessing which of its employees would best serve the organization by working remotely and will be announcing further plans in the event that the virus begins to spread into the region, said William Lavery, a spokesperson at WellSpan.

WellSpan announced on Thursday that as part of its response to COVID-19, the system is developing a temporary outdoor patient screening and testing area.

“Doing screening and testing in an open-air setting limits the potential spread of the disease and will help us preserve our negative airflow rooms in our hospitals,” said Dr. R. Hal Baker, senior vice president of WellSpan Health.

UPMC Pinnacle

UPMC Pinnacle’s parent organization, Pittsburgh-based UPMC, has suspended all business travel to China and Italy and is requiring all employees returning to the U.S. after traveling to areas with sustained transmission to be evaluated before returning to work.

A small number of UPMC Pinnacle’s staff has already been self-quarantining at home due to known exposure and compliance with guidance from public health authorities, said Kelly McCall, public relations director at UPMC Pinnacle.

Members of staff who are voluntarily self-quarantined can work from home if appropriate.

Geisinger Holy Spirit

Employees at Geisinger Holy Spirit are recommended to stay home if they are experiencing a fever, cough of shortness of breath. Geisinger teams have been formulating a contingency plan since January, which includes following CDC’s guidelines.

Pa. announces first two cases of coronavirus

Gov. Tom Wolf announced two presumptive cases of coronavirus – one in Delaware County and the other in Wayne County. Tests are being sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for a second opinion.

The individuals, both adults, are currently self-quarantined in their homes.

“We anticipated this very scenario and have been preparing for Pennsylvanians to become impacted by this virus,” Wolf said. “This is not the first rapidly-spreading virus we have faced in our commonwealth and it will not be the last. We are prepared to mitigate the spread of this virus.”

Pennsylvania began testing potential samples of coronavirus last week after the CDC shipped tests to the states. The state is referring to these first two cases as “presumptive” until it can get a second opinion from the CDC.

The state has yet to say how either individual contracted the virus, but noted that the adult in Delaware County recently traveled to an area of the country where the virus has been reported.

“Further spread of this virus throughout the nation will likely occur,” said Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine. “We encourage people to prepare for potential life disruptions. The same family emergency plans and kits that we use to prepare for flu or norovirus, and even snowstorms and floods, are important now. Pennsylvanians should continue to help stop the spread of viruses by washing your hands, covering coughs and sneezes, cleaning surfaces and staying home if you are sick.”

There are currently 100,000 cases of the virus worldwide, including more than 3,300 deaths. In the U.S., there have been 233 confirmed cases and 12 deaths.

Pennsylvania begins coronavirus testing prior to first case

The Pennsylvania Department of Health has begun testing potential samples of coronavirus from its Exton-based laboratory, but has yet to see an active case in the state.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shipped tests to state departments of health across the country this week after two months of testing potential samples of the virus from its own facilities.

With the update in the CDC’s guidelines, Pennsylvania’s Department of Health has been able to test any potential samples of the virus that state health care organizations send its way — a change that Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said could speed up wait times for testing from two to three days to less than one day.

“This is a very important step for us as we continue to provide timely updates to Pennsylvanians,” Levine said during a press conference on Tuesday. “If we get a specimen in the morning, we can have (a result) later in the afternoon.”

The CDC announced on Wednesday that coronavirus has grown to over 94,000 cases worldwide, with more than 3,200 deaths documented. The most recent numbers in the U.S. are currently at 128 cases with nine deaths.

While Pennsylvania has yet to see its first case of the virus, the state is already testing samples sent to it from health care providers and can currently test 25 samples per day, said Levine.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will soon open up testing to commercial laboratories.

Dr. Graham Snyder, medical director of infection prevention and hospital epidemiology at UPMC in Pittsburgh, said during a press conference on Tuesday that the hospital system is already preparing to perform testing.

“We are working quickly to develop our own testing capabilities so that any cases can be identified more rapidly,” Snyder said. “As an organization, we’ve had system-wide communication, whether staff are in a rural hospital or in Pittsburgh.”

Some manufacturers of medical devices based in China have seen disruptions in their production lines because of the coronavirus outbreak, but Tami Minnier, Chief Quality Officer at UPMC, said that the system has yet to feel any pressures in their supply chain partnerships.

“We are not sitting back and waiting for any of those pressures to come to us,” Minnier said. “We are proactively working with those suppliers and vendors.”