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Average number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients 'highest it’s been' at Mount Nittany

In this file photo from summer 2020, a sign in front of the Mount Nittany Medical Center asks visitors to see a staff member if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
Min Xian
Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College said it is facing challenges in capacity that it has not experienced since the pandemic began.

Mount Nittany Medical Center in State College is facing challenges in capacity that it has not experienced since the pandemic began, according to Executive Vice President Tom Charles, who made a special report to the State College Borough Council during the Dec. 6 meeting.

As of the morning of Dec. 6, he said 66 patients were hospitalized at Mount Nittany for COVID-19. So far in December, the daily average number of COVID-19 patients at the hospital is “the highest it’s been at any point in the 21-month pandemic,” Charles said.

He said the issue is compounded by the diminishing capacity of area long term care facilities to take in patients the hospital wants to discharge.

“We're finding not only do we have a large number of COVID patients, but we also have patients who are in the hospital because we are unable to discharge them as quickly as we normally would to nursing homes,” Charles said. “And so we're finding ourselves just dealing with very high numbers of patients that we don't normally have.”

That’s led to longer wait times in the ER and postponed surgeries. Last week, for about 12 hours, the hospital asked ambulances to divert to other facilities if possible.

“We're having to take a set of extraordinary measures that we're not wanting to have to take but we're finding ourselves needing to take,” he said.

Charles said as of Monday, about one in three patients hospitalized at Mount Nittany were there because of COVID, and about two-thirds of those patients were unvaccinated. He told the council that it’s unclear how many of the hospitalized and vaccinated patients have gotten booster shots.

Given the stress the hospital has been under and the emergence of the Omicron variant, the State College Borough Council voted unanimously Monday night to extend its indoor masking ordinance until the end of January.

Min Xian reported at WPSU from 2016-2022.
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