Guthrie prepared for new normal

Guthrie Executive Vice President and Chief Quality Officer Dr. Michael Scalzone speaks at a press conference on Thursday.

SAYRE — As the country starts to slowly reopen from the shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, officials at Guthrie are also looking forward to getting back to a new normal.

“The number of patients that we’ve seen has gotten to be fewer and fewer each week and the number of tests that have been positive have also been fewer and fewer each week,” said Dr. Michael Scalzone, who is Guthrie’s Executive Vice President and Chief Quality Officer. “That is allowing us to open up our care to needed, but less emergent procedures and less emergent care; things like mammograms, routine healthcare visits and elective surgeries.”

Scalzone, who spoke at a press conference on Thursday, said the healthcare organization has been able to get to this point by complying with regulations on both sides of the border.

Guthrie had to make sure there is enough treatment space and ventilator capacity in the organization’s hospitals, sufficient personal protective equipment for staff and enough diagnostic testing.

Like other hospitals and clinics, Guthrie didn’t have a large testing capability when the pandemic first hit — but that isn’t the case any longer.

“We have a good portion of testing now. We can really expand the testing that we do. We have been able to test all the patients that require that for caring for their symptoms or if they have to be admitted to the hospital. We have enough tests where we can check all of our pre-operative patients,” Scalzone said.

Guthrie has enough tests to even help out local nursing homes, who are now required to test residents once a week in Pennsylvania and twice in New York.

“We can support the needs of our local nursing homes. That’s a large volume of tests, but we do have that available and we can help them out,” said Scalzone, who noted that the tests are diagnostic tests, not the antibody tests that are used to see if someone has already had exposure to the virus.

Scalzone explained that while the worst of the pandemic may be behind us, the Guthrie organization will remain prepared for more patients.

“Going forward we are really going to have to parallel systems of care. We will always need to have readiness for COVID patients. We’ll need to have space and equipment to take care of them. But we also need to be able to do the routine care and important care that our patients have been needing and that we’ve always done for them,” he said. “These systems can be complimentary and we will be prepared for both of those.”

Celebrating National Healthcare Week

At the start of Thursday’s press conference, Guthrie President and CEO Dr. Joe Scopelliti thanked both the community and his staff for their diligence, patience and hard work during the pandemic.

“I want to start with a sincere thank you to our patients and our community. They have been faithfully compliant. They have followed all of the directions, instructions and suggestions that we have offered,” he said. “They have postponed care appropriately when needed and they have sought emergency care when it was necessary and they have done this with a great attitude. We are very appreciative for the sacrifices that they’ve made to accommodate us at this time.”

Scopelliti praised the work of the frontline healthcare workers.

“We want to especially thank the nurses and frontline staff who have been so earnest in their work and have taken it so seriously to provide great care for the people in our community,” Scopelliti said.

Pat McDonald can be reached at (570) 888-9643 ext. 228 or Follow Managing Editor Pat McDonald on Twitter @PatMcDonaldMT.

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