LVH-Hazleton Pleads for Community to Stay Home and Practice Social Distancing
(April 2, 2020, Hazleton, Pa.) On March 21 Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)-Hazleton saw its first confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Hazleton. In less than two weeks, the number of cases has risen exponentially. Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) has been working non-stop
to provide health information to the community, set up testing sites, care for those who have contracted the COVID-19 virus and safeguard its colleagues and providers who are on the front line.
“Despite the proactive actions recommended by President Trump to social distance and the stay-at-home order implemented by Gov. Wolf, the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in Hazleton,” says Jodi Lenko, MD, Vice Chair of Internal Medicine at LVH-Hazleton. “We are
very concerned by the upward trend that our medical community is now seeing.”
LVH-Hazleton has tested close to twenty-five-hundred people since the first Assess and Test Center opened on March 13. Over 300 positive cases have been identified and this number is projected to grow by 40-60 positive cases a day. Lenko noted that this number could be higher because it does not include tests that were performed by independent providers or sent to other laboratories for analysis.
“We made the decision to release the number of positive COVID-19 cases identified by LVHN because our community needs to realize that the virus is here. It is in Hazleton and it is non-discriminating. Not based on age. Not based on ethnicity,” says John Fletcher, President, LVHN-Hazleton. “Our intent is not to alarm the community, but to make you aware that we all need to take this seriously.”
Many of those who have contracted the virus have been able to recover at home. However, the hospital is beginning to see a steady amount of people requiring more serious care.
LVHN’s Assess and Test Centers located at 140 N. Sherman Court and 128 W. 14 th St. in Hazleton are seeing an average of 150 people for testing each day over the past week. “The number of people recommended for testing is continuing to increase,” says Michael Evans, M.D., Medical
Director, Lehigh Valley Physician Group-Hazleton. It is imperative that residents stay home to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. I cannot emphasize this enough.”
Hospital officials acknowledge that they are prepared for a surge of COVID-19 patients based on predictive models. However, they warn if we don’t act now to flatten the curve and stop the fast spread of the virus, local hospital systems may not be able to handle the surge of patients
needing hospitalization and mechanical ventilation.
“LVH-Hazleton is working closely with LVHN-Cedar Crest and other network hospitals to share resources and equipment and develop and refine surge plans, expecting the worst but hoping for the best,” says Fletcher. “We cannot fight this battle alone. Every single resident in our
community shares a responsibility to help stop the spread.”
Here is what LVHN strongly recommends:
Wash your hands often and don’t touch your face.
Stay home when at all possible. This includes work if you are sick.
Practice social distancing by using technology (phones, social media) and practice physical distancing by staying 6-10 feet away from others if you absolutely must go out.
Do not get together with anyone outside your household even if they are family.
If you feel sick with COVID-19 symptoms (cough, fever, difficulty breathing) do not go to the emergency room or an Assess and Test Center. First, contact your health care provider or get screened by going to MyLVHN.org/Evisit or the MyLVHN app for an e-visit, call 888-402-LVHN
(5846) for an over-the-phone COVID-19 screening with a nurse, or schedule a video visit through the MyLVHN app. For more information, visit LVHN.org/COVID19.