Chestnut Hill Hospital’s entrance (Photo by Tom Utescher)

by Tom Utescher

To discover how Chestnut Hill Hospital is currently coping with the COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, the LOCAL contacted Catherine M. Brzozowski, who is the hospital’s Marketing and Public Relations Director and a Chestnut Hill native.

The hospital requested that questions be submitted and then answered in writing via e-mail. Obviously, specific cases could not be discussed, and case statistics are changing from day-to-day. For information about symptoms, when to seek testing, and COVID-19 statistics, it’s best to seek information on the websites of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at cdc.gov and of the Pennsylvania Department of Health at health.pa.gov.

Chestnut Hill Hospital is part of Tower Health Medical Group, which operates a network of hospitals and physicians serving the needs of more than 2.5 million people in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

LOCAL:  At Chestnut Hill Hospital, what is the current availability of COVID-19 testing materials? If they’re scarce, when will more be coming?

C.H. HOSPITAL:  We are managing all our supplies carefully to ensure we minimize potential shortages. We currently have sufficient volumes of specimen collection materials.

LOCAL:  There’s been a lot in the news about medical equipment shortages, ranging from protective masks to sanitizing supplies to respirators. How well supplied is Chestnut Hill Hospital with critical items?

C.H. HOSPITAL:  We are monitoring and managing all our supplies carefully and coordinating and sharing supplies across Tower Health. We are also working with supply manufacturers and distributors to identify sources to replenish supplies.

LOCAL:  How many Chestnut Hill Hospital physicians, nurses, and staff have exhibited symptoms or been diagnosed with COVID-19?

C.H. HOSPITAL:  Hospital staffing is assessed hourly to ensure the safety of our patients. The PA Department of Health reports on confirmed cases of COVID-19.

LOCAL:  How is the morale of the staff? What measures are being taken to alleviate their physical and mental stress?  (Many of us have seen the photo of the exhausted nurse in Italy who fell asleep with her head on her desk.)

C.H. HOSPITAL:  Everyone at Chestnut Hill Hospital, and throughout Tower Health, is working diligently to keep our patients and the community safe.  Hospital staffing is assessed hourly to ensure the safety of our patients. We are encouraging staff to support one another, take breaks as needed, and to ask for help when they need it.

LOCAL:  How do orders, decisions, and recommendations made at the Federal level (CDC, U.S. Administration, etc.) filter down to Tower Health and Chestnut Hill Hospital? How about from PA state government?

C.H. HOSPITAL:  Both the CDC and the PA Department of Health distribute daily updates to healthcare providers. We are a part of this distribution system and communicate these updates regularly across the health system to adhere to the most current federal and state guidelines.

LOCAL:  How does CHC advise persons who are feeling negative psychological effects from the COVID-19 outbreak and the resulting shutdowns and social isolation?

C.H. HOSPITAL:  Maintaining mental health is just as important as maintaining physical health. We encourage individuals, while they should maintain physical distance, to reach out to family and friends via technology to check in with one another, share their feelings, and acknowledge the stress of dealing with COVID-19.

LOCAL:  This may well be a question impossible to answer in any detail, but what are the expectations of CHH and Tower regarding the severity and duration of the COVID-19 outbreak?

C.H. HOSPITAL:  We are following the guidance of federal and state health authorities to ensure we are prepared for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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New visitation restrictions for Chestnut Hill Hospital have recently been posted on the Tower Health website. They are mainly geared toward avoiding any kind of crowded conditions in the facility. This and other information may be accessed at chestnuthill.towerhealth.org

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