Two dedicated COVID-19 clinics available through Penn State Health Medical Group
Patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 may have health care needs that fall short of a visit to the emergency department but are serious enough to warrant a face-to-face appointment with a provider. Penn State Health has opened two regional clinics dedicated to care of these patients.
A new Penn State Health Berks County COVID-19 Clinic opened in Muhlenberg on Friday, April 17. Located at 3407 N. Fifth Street, the clinic is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to noon. Berks County providers can refer patients by calling the office at 484-987-3450 or 484-987-3457, direct messaging Kieryn Conner of Leslie Cepeda via Cerner, or sending a message via TigerText.
In Hershey, Penn State Health Medical Group turned the West Campus Health and Wellness Center into a dedicated COVID-19 clinic as of March 30. Expanded hours are 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Patients are referred on a case-by-case basis by their provider who are asked to TigerText “HMC COVID Clinic Physician Role.”
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Logistics for the COVID-19 Clinic at Internal Medicine (IM) West involved setting up negative pressure rooms and training staff on procedures for personal protective equipment. The new clinic came together quickly, thanks to help from many different specialty areas, according to Heather Fanus, outpatient director at Penn State Health Medical Group.
Radiology, Facilities, Nursing Education, Emergency Response, Supply and Distribution, Pharmacy, Environmental Health, Infection Prevention, Sign Shop and Linen Services were all involved in the planning and logistics starting March 23. The clinic features seven exam rooms, two radiology units and an ultrasound room. In addition to seeing adult patients, the staff is able to care for children of all ages in consultation with pediatricians. The clinic also includes an obstetrics ultrasound room in the event that an obstetrician wants to see a COVID-19-positive patient who is pregnant.
Internists Dr. Emily Link and Dr. Laurie Nelson serve as co-directors of the COVID-19 Clinic at IM West and are joined by Heather Leininger, practice site manager, Heather Wissler, senior attending nurse, and Lizzie Neiswender, medical office supervisor. Four licensed practical nurses and two radiology technicians are also on-site at the clinic.
“Some patients we see have undifferentiated respiratory failure and are still awaiting confirmation on their test results,” said Link. “They are extremely afraid of any type of medical visit and are thankful to be able to come here, where we welcome them and have taken every precaution possible for their safety.”
Patients who have confirmed diagnoses of COVID-19 are relieved following their visit to the clinic, according to Link and Nelson. “They leave knowing that they’re doing OK and have someone they can call if their symptoms worsen,” said Link, adding that area providers have done an incredible job managing their patients’ care remotely through phone calls and Penn State Health OnDemand.
Environmental Health staff members are required to wait for at least 69 minutes before they can disinfect a patient room after a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 case. Because of that, the facility can accommodate no more than five patients at a time. For added safety measures, patients who are under investigation for COVID-19 or awaiting test results are only seen in the morning, while COVID-19 positive patients are only seen in the afternoon.
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