Due to the swiftly spreading omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus, Montgomery County hospitals are under strain. Montgomery County officials and area hospital leadership gave a virtual briefing today on the status of those hospitals, frontline healthcare workers, expanding PCR testing capacity and best practices for when to go to the emergency room.
Supporting our hospitals and frontline healthcare workers has been a priority since the first days of this pandemic. We continue to meet regularly with our hospitals to make sure we are doing everything we can to support them during this current surge,” said Val Arkoosh, MD, MPH, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners “One of the most important ways we have stepped up to support our community and our hospitals is by quickly expanding the County’s PCR testing capacity. Last week we added 1,500 new weekly appointments at our five community testing sites to better serve our residents. In total, we have added 6,000 appointments in the month of January. With more testing available in our community, we want to remind our residents not to go to the emergency room for COVID-19 testing but do not hesitate to go for a medical emergency.”
“Like other organizations here in Montgomery County and throughout the region, our emergency department remains very busy. However, it is important for the community to know that we are here and ready to provide emergency care to those in need,” said Beth Duffy, President and Chief Operating Officer for Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, now part of Jefferson Health. “We continue to urge the public not to visit the emergency room for COVID tests but rather to utilize the expanded testing sites throughout the county.”
“We have been and continue to collaborate with local EMS and our fellow health and hospital systems in the county to ensure patients are receiving the emergency and inpatient hospital care they need,” said Michael Laign, President and CEO of Redeemer Health. “We encourage everyone in the community to do their part by wearing a mask, getting vaccinated and getting a booster when eligible.”
“Everyone at Pottstown Hospital, and at all the hospitals in the County, are working extremely hard and with tremendous dedication to care for our patients and the community under very difficult circumstances,” said Rich Newell, President and CEO of Phoenixville and Pottstown Hospitals “The public can support their healthcare teams by 1) getting vaccinated (and boosted) against COVID, 2) wearing masks and social distancing as appropriate, and 3) being patient and encouraging of our first responders and caregivers who are working so hard on the public’s behalf.”
“We continue to not only thank our team on the front lines at Main Line Health, but also our healthcare workers throughout the entire region. We ask that the public continues to thank the region’s healthcare heroes for their steadfast dedication and strength during the last two years and this current surge which is the largest we have ever seen,” said Jonathan Stallkamp, MD, Chief Medical Officer with Main Line Health. “One of the best forms of gratitude the public can show to these heroes is by getting vaccinated and boosted. Vaccination is still key to preventing hospitalization and death.”
PCR COVID-19 TESTING – Montgomery County Office of Public Health has expanded testing capacity at its five County-run testing sites. The county has added more than 1,500 weekly appointments—for a total of 6,000 additional appointments in the month of January—to accommodate increased demand. Testing is provided at no cost, however appointments are required. To see a list of all area community-based testing sites, visit HHS.gov.
ANTIGEN (AT-HOME) TESTING – Montgomery County Office of Public Health recommends that at-home tests should only be used if individuals are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
Some at-home tests may not detect the virus if individuals do not have symptoms even if you do have a COVID-19 infection. It is recommended to use at-home tests if you are feeling sick (like a scratchy throat, cough, or fever) and need to know if it is COVID-19 or something else. Keep in mind that at-home tests can be different from one another. Be sure to carefully read and follow all the manufacturer’s instructions for performing the test. For more details, or to report a positive at-home test, Montgomery County residents are encouraged to visit www.montcopa.org/AtHomeTesting.
COVID-19 VACCINES – Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is the best way to avoid serious illness and hospitalization. The Montgomery County Office of Public Health continues to operate four sites that offer the vaccine at no charge. All eligible Montgomery County residents are urged to get a booster dose as soon as they are eligible. Residents can also visit www.vaccines.gov for a list of all vaccine providers.