Still no cases, but COVID-19 impact here as LVC, LVAMC reduce on-campus risk

5 min read673 views and 133 shares Posted March 13, 2020

Lebanon Valley College, Lebanon VA Medical Center, and WellSpan Health are among the Lebanon County institutions that are responding to COVID-19.

Whether these actions are pre-emptive considers on your perspective. As this graphic by the news organization Pennsylvania Legislative Services illustrates, the novel coronavirus has only been confirmed so far in counties at the eastern edge of the state, but officials have been clear that the virus is not yet contained.

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Governor Tom Wolf has encouraged Pennsylvanians to cancel gatherings of more than 250 people and reconsider attending other public events/spaces or participating in nonessential travel.

According to state data, 219 people have been tested by the state so far for coronavirus with 116 of those negative, 81 pending, 20 presumed positive, and 2 confirmed positive – in other words, 16% of those with test results were considered positive.

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As cancellations swept the nation yesterday, students at nearby schools and colleges speculated what would be done locally. On Thursday afternoon, Penn State cancelled classes through April 3. Penn State Extension events were cancelled at the same time.

A Lebanon Valley College student who spoke with LebTown noted that conversation on campus yesterday seemed to be centered on what would happen if classes were to move online. Then, shortly after 7:00 p.m. Thursday night, President Lewis Thayne issued a communication to students moving all classes to remote learning from next Wednesday to Thursday, April 9. Classes will be cancelled next Monday and Tuesday to provide faculty with time to prepare for remote instruction. LVC students will need to vacate residence halls by Sunday, March 15, at 1:00 p.m. unless they have permission to stay there.

Thayne noted that room and board costs would be prorated, and that the change would not affect any student’s on-time graduation.

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Additionally, the Arnold Sports Center will be closed until further notice.

The Lebanon Veterans Affairs Medical Center has also implemented measures to slow or prevent the spread of COVID-19, with new screening requirements that took affect on March 9.

The Lebanon Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
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The screening measures were implemented at the direction of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and entailed new traffic patterns and checkpoints for accessing the South Lebanon Township medical campus.

A map released by the Lebanon VA Medical Center showing how to access the 1700 S. Lincoln Ave. entrance.

All veterans, volunteers, and visitors are required to use the campus’ 1700 S. Lincoln Ave. entrance, where they will basked the following three questions:

  • Do you have a fever? Do you have a worsening cough or flu-like symptom?
  • Have you or a close contact traveled to an area with widespread or sustained community transmission of the coronavirus within 14 days of symptom onset?
  • Have you been in close contact with someone, including health care workers, confirmed to have the coronavirus?
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A secondary screening facility is setup for visitors who answer yes to one of the questions.

A facility used for secondary screenings in cases where someone answers “Yes” to one of the questions asked.

“We apologize in advance for any delays or inconveniences this may cause, however, we believe, preparation is the judicious course of action and we are taking steps to ensure our Veterans, staff, volunteers, visitors and others coming to our campus are screened and appropriately cared for,” said Lebanon VA Director, Robert W. Callahan, Jr. in a press release.

“While this process will be an inconvenience, we are implementing a plan that allows us to pre-screen individuals entering the campus and provide care for those who need it.”

On Wednesday, staff gave media members in attendance an overview of the VA’s screening protocol.

Theresa Haley, Infection Preventionist, Dr. John Halcovage, assistant chief of medicine, and Robert Callahan, director and CEO, speak to media.

A focus was made on the Respiratory Isolation Unit and special equipment that will help the VA contain coronavirus if it arrives in Lebanon County. Theresa Haley, Infection Preventionist, spoke to the media about ways to treat and prevent the virus.

Negative air pressure machines are used to remove and filter contaminated air from a sealed containment unit.

The VA has additionally implemented a “Restricted Visitation” status for all inpatient beds and discontinued direct admissions to long-term care facilities for the current time. Family members are encouraged to contact clinical treatment teams with questions or concerns.

VA community clinics are also screening anyone entering their facilities. There is no specified end date to the measures at this time.

Regional healthcare provider WellSpan Health has also instituted changes in response to COVID-19. Temporary outdoor screening areas will be used at WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon as well as the network’s other hospitals.

A screening tent in front of WellSpan Good Samaritan Hospital in Lebanon. (WellSpan)

“Doing screening and testing in an open-air setting limits the potential spread of the disease and will help us preserve our negative airflow rooms in our hospitals,” said Dr. R. Hal Baker, senior vice president of WellSpan Health, in a press release.

For additional information on COVID-19, Lebanon County has an official page setup, as does the state Department of Health.

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Read More: No cases so far, but county starts webpage for coronavirus information

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Full Disclosure: WellSpan Health is an advertiser on LebTown. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on advertising relationships and advertisers do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about advertising with LebTown here.

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