UPMC says it brought in almost 200 nurses in the past week for additional staffing.By Dr. Maria Simbra

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With an increase in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations, the workforce at UPMC is increasing too.

“The communities UPMC serves,” says UPMC Chief Operating Officer, Leslie Davis, “are experiencing the highest numbers of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations since the start of the pandemic.”

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UPMC talked Tuesday about how they’re dealing with a surge in patient care.

“We have brought in nearly 200 nurses in the past week to provide additional staffing as we expand hours of care,” she says.

Non-patient care nurses, agency nurses and travel nurses are filling the need. Also, staff who are exposed to COVID-19 can come back to work sooner, consistent with CDC guidance.

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“We have shortened the quarantine for our employees from 14 days to 10 days, and soon to seven days, so that staff without COVID symptoms can return to work more quickly,” says Davis.

The number of beds is expanding: “We have found opportunities to quickly add additional beds across our system.”

And figuring out who can manage at home keeps beds available for people who need to be hospitalized.

“We are seeing a far lower proportion of critically ill patients needing intensive care and mechanical ventilation or breathing machines and we did in the spring,” Davis says.

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UPMC will not be cutting back on elective procedures, and in fact encourages people to seek health care for both emergencies and routine care, and to not delay procedures. Chief operating officer Leslie Davis says only 20% of UPMC’s beds are currently occupied by COVID patients.

Dr. Maria Simbra