Mount Nittany Medical Center continues operational adjustments as Omicron variant cases begin to rise

December 23, 2021
COVID-19
6 min read

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Mount Nittany Health continues to see high numbers of COVID inpatients and continues operational adjustments to manage system resources

Today, the Medical Center is caring for 57 COVID patients ranging in age from 20 to 95. The average number of daily patients in December is 59 and the total number of patients in December is 178. 

As we approach the holiday weekend, the Omicron variant begins to outpace the Delta variant in community transmission. Earlier this week, Penn State University announced it detected the Omicron variant for the first time at its University Park campus. While some initial data about the variant shows it can cause less severe illness than seen with Delta, health officials warn it’s still early and there are a lot of things we still do not know.

“The Omicron variant is here, and it’s concerning for a number of reasons,” said Upendra Thaker, MD, chief medical officer, Mount Nittany Medical Center. “This variant is at least two to three times more transmissible than the Delta variant, so it’s spreading very rapidly. Anyone who is exposed is very likely to spread it to others.”

Thaker says the vaccine may offer some protection, but the booster shot provides the most protection against this variant.

“If someone has had a previous COVID infection, they can still become infected with the Omicron variant,” Thaker said. “With this variant being so new, we do not know how it will affect patients with comorbidities like obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The preliminary data from South Africa and other countries shows healthy adults often have less severe illness with Omicron. However, it is unclear what happens with people with other comorbid conditions. With one or more comorbidities, we could see more severe infections of the American population.”

The physicians, nurses and staff at Mount Nittany Health ask the community to take precautions as the holiday celebrations continue over the weekend. Avoid large indoor gatherings, wear a mask, wash your hands and, most importantly, get vaccinated. And, if you are vaccinated, get a booster shot. The vaccination and booster shot are the best way to protect yourself. If you experience any symptoms like fever, cough, chills, body aches, headaches and / or loss of taste or smell, seek testing and isolate yourself from others.

As part of Mount Nittany Health’s operational adjustments to meet patient demand, elective surgeries requiring a one-night stay, or more, have been postponed through January 3 along with all Endoscopy procedures. Community members can continue to expect longer than normal wait times when using the emergency department.

The current visitation policy allows one designated visitor per patient, per day, between the visiting hours of 2:00 – 6:00 pm daily. The complete visitation guidelines are on the patient information page of mountnittany.org.

Mount Nittany Health continues to offer COVID vaccination opportunities for community members. Please visit our website to register for a Pfizer BioNTech vaccine or booster dose. Importantly, if you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, or believe you have been exposed to someone who is COVID positive, then please isolate yourself from others and seek testing. Visit our patient information page to learn more.

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