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A crisis point Uniontown Hospital shifting staff and suspending visitation to care for COVID patients

WVU Medicine Uniontown Hospital shifts staffing and suspends visitation in response to increasing COVID-19 cases.

By Jennifer Garofalo

Herald Standard

At Fayette County’s peak of COVID-19 cases in the spring, a maximum of 12 to 14 patients were admitted to Uniontown Hospital with the virus at once.


“We have 50 COVID patients as of today,” Josh Krysak, hospital community relations director, said Sunday.


As a result, starting today, the hospital is suspending all inpatient visitation in an effort to keep patients and staff safe.


“We are at a crisis point in the county, and it is testing our limits as far as staffing, and being able to care for the people that we need to,” Krysak said.


Hospital officials have started freeing up and moving staff around to maintain the necessary levels of care, as Krysak said they fear the winter peak is yet to come.


“It’s as serious as it’s ever been,” he said. “We’re a 145-bed facility, so when 50 of those beds are taken up by people you need to segregate … it becomes quite a challenge.”


Cases in the county have risen steadily over the past several weeks. On Saturday, the county recorded its highest number of new cases with nearly 230 reported. An additional 167 were reported by the state Department of Health on Sunday.


Deaths, too, have risen.


Between early March and Sept. 9, seven Fayette residents had died from COVID-19. Eight more died in October, seven in November and five in the first six days of December, including one reported Sunday.


In total, DOH data on Sunday showed 2,963 positive cases and 27 deaths in Fayette.

Krysak said the number of people coming for drive-up tests at the hospital have spiked from 30 to 50 daily in summer and early fall. They now routinely testing 120 each day and are seeing positivity rates between 20% and 30%.


He said the hospital’s virus response team continues to meet daily, and may consider suspending some services like elective procedures or rehabilitation to ensure ample staffing to keep up with treating positive patients.


Krysak stressed the importance of following state guidance for masking, hand washing and staying home.


“It is absolutely vital that everybody does their part for the best health of themselves, their family, loved ones and community, and wears a mask and washes their hands. Do everything you can to stay home as much as possible,” he said. “We, through masking and being proactive, do have the ability to slow this surge. But people have to want to do it.”