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COVID-19: Hotspots surround Bucks County


As of April 1, the state of Pennsylvania had 5,805 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 74 deaths for a mortality rate of 1.3 percent.

The largest group of positive cases were those between 25 and 49 years of age, comprising 40 percent, and more than half the cases in the state are under the age of 49. The highest rate of hospitalizations was for those over 65, comprising 51 percent.

Bucks County reported 312 cases as of April 1, with six deaths. Of six community hospitals in the county, five are inpatient medical facilities with a total of 943 staffed beds. Bucks is adjacent to the two hottest COVID counties in the state and 50 miles from New York City, the national epicenter of COVID cases.

Philadelphia County, with 1,478 cases and 10 deaths, carries the highest number of diagnosed COVID-19, surpassing Montgomery County, which is now the second most affected county in the state with 649 cases and eight deaths.

Doylestown Health has made a public statement of appreciation on its blog for supplies donated by the community to help protect patients and staff. Citing a critical shortage of surgical masks, the health foundation is compiling offers of supply and funding donations.

A tent installed at the entrance of the hospital’s emergency entrance was operational on March 30 for diagnosis and triage of up to 20 respiratory cases. In addition, drive-through testing is available via preregistered scheduling for those with a physician order.

Doylestown hospital, which has 217 staffed beds, has enforced significant visitor restrictions throughout most of the facility, including access doors. All elective procedures are on hold and outpatient rehabilitation has been temporarily closed.

St. Luke’s hospital in Quakertown, with 62 staffed beds, has started a donation program for personal protective equipment as well as response fund. Strict new changes to the hospital’s visitation policy include limitations on the number of visitors and COVID-19 prescreen requirements for visitors to obstetric labor and delivery units.

A March 28 travel advisory by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urging residents of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey to refrain from domestic travel has prompted St. Luke’s to deny labor and delivery unit access to anyone who has traveled from those states.

While Doylestown hospital cites a mask shortage, St. Luke’s has deemed its supply as adequate. In fact, St. Luke’s has enacted a policy requiring universal masking for all employees within the facility. The hospital has teamed with Filament Innovations of Coplay to produce 3D printed N95 respirator masks and face shields. Filament Innovations is based in the Lehigh Valley.

St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, with 348 staffed beds, has defaulted to a no-visitor policy with exceptions made only on a case-by-case basis. The hospital is accepting donations of personal protective equipment, nasal testing swabs, and sanitizing hand cleaner and surface wipes.

Lower Bucks Hospital, which has recently seen a reduction to 140 staffed beds from 175, is screening symptomatic patients as well as those with a history of travel to affected communities within the past 14 days. Unless clinically necessary, visitors will not be permitted to any inpatient hospital areas, and non-emergency patients, approved visitors, and staff will be temperature screened upon entering the building. Anyone with a temperature at or above 100.4 degrees will be denied access through the main lobby.

Lower Bucks spokesperson Michelle Aliprantis stated that while there are currently no identified COVID-19 patients at the hospital, protocols are in place, including isolation and controlled environments. She stated that supplies and equipment can be addressed through Prime Healthcare, a national hospital system whose network includes Lower Bucks. The hospital has completed 12 COVID-19 tests on suspected cases. A triage area within the facility has been designated for COVID-19 screening. Non-urgent and non-emergency surgeries have been indefinitely postponed.

Temperature screening will also be required at Grand View Hospital in Sellersville, including staff members, with a fever-defined cut-off of 100 degrees. Visits to some inpatient facilities at the 176-bed hospital will be permitted but limited. The latest information available through the hospital’s website states that Grand View Health facilities do not yet have testing equipment for COVID-19.