COVID-19 resources and vaccine information at St. Clair can be found here.

Most Read News Stories

Our most read news stories.

St. Clair Hospital vaccinates residents of St. Thomas More Manor in Bethel Park

St. Thomas More Manor was touched by an angel.

At least, the angel touched down at the Bethel Park apartment complex in the form of a four-foot-tall statue, as a gift from Christian Housing Inc. to its 14 facilities in Western Pennsylvania.

“It came Saturday, and I just left it in the office in a box. It was too heavy for me to put together,” property manager Sister Cecilia Marie Kulik said.

With some assistance, she took care of the assembly two days later, and the statue was ready for a prominent place in the foyer.

“We put it out there where we have it,” Sister Cecilia said. “Ten minutes later, Dr. Yeasted called.”

Dr. G. Alan Yeasted, St. Clair Hospital chief medical officer emeritus, had some unexpectedly fantastic news: St. Thomas More Manor residents would be receiving vaccinations against COVID-19.

“I jumped on it, of course, and when the people found out, they were crying,” Sister Cecilia recalled. “They were dancing. They were so excited, because they have really been trying so hard to find someplace where they could get it. And there are only a few people in the building who were able to get it someplace else.”

Four days later, St. Clair personnel arrived at St. Thomas More Manor carrying doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine to administer to 80 appreciative residents.

“I felt the flu shot more than I did this one,” a gentleman said after receiving his.

The Bethel Park apartment complex represented the first destination for a St. Clair Hospital initiative to take the vaccine to where it is needed.

“We looked at groups like St. Thomas More Manor, and we felt that these people had, No. 1, difficulty with transportation,” Yeasted said.

They also may have difficulties with computer literacy, he said, and they generally are in the targeted age group for early phase vaccination.

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Gateway Health and Bridges Health Partners LLC Announce Accountable Care Organization Partnership

New Partnership Offers Value-based Care to Medicare Members in Southwestern PA

PITTSBURGH — Gateway Health Plan, Inc., (“Gateway Health”), a leading managed care organization dedicated to caring for the “total health” of its members, and Bridges Health Partners LLC, a Clinically Integrated Network, today announced they have entered an Accountable Care Organization (ACO) partnership.

New Gateway Health logo (PRNewsfoto/Gateway Health Plan)
The partnership aims to enhance quality of care by using data insights and value-based programs that proactively manage the health care needs of Gateway Health’s Medicare members in southwestern Pennsylvania. It will provide patient-centered care that improves the patient experience and health outcomes, while also reducing costs.

“At Gateway Health, we believe that to truly care for a person’s health, we need a different kind of healthcare,” said Glenn Pomerantz, M.D., Senior Vice President of Health Services, Gateway Health. “We are thrilled to partner with Bridges Health Partners and provide our members with the type of value-based care they can really count on.”

Bridges Health Partners was formed in 2017 by affiliates of Butler Health System, Excela Health, St. Clair Hospital and Washington Health System. Bridges Health Partners LLC integrates the systems’ independent and employed medical staff. The organization focuses on quality and outcomes improvement by implementing an integrated, regional network of care.

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St. Clair Hospital brings covid-19 vaccine to ‘thrilled’ seniors at low-income apartments

Most of the nearly 100 residents at St. Thomas More Manor, an eight-story apartment tower for low-income seniors in Bethel Park, have been eager to get vaccinated for covid-19.

But like many people across Western Pennsylvania — and particularly, elderly people without access to cars and computers — they weren’t sure how or when they’d get their turn amid the state’s scattered rollout.

They rejoiced Friday when St. Clair Hospital officials brought the vaccine directly to them. A total of 80 seniors received their first vaccine dose in a room set up in their apartment building next to St. Thomas More Church.

“They were extremely grateful. They were thrilled,” said Dr. G. Alan Yeasted, chief medical officer emeritus at St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon, who was among those giving the shots as part of a six-person mobile team.

St. Clair Hospital’s move to take vaccines on the road to those who need it most marks among a handful of such outreach efforts happening in the region, which still is struggling to vaccinate all health care workers, long-term care facilities and other priority groups.

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COVID-19 In Allegheny County: St. Thomas More Manor Residents Dance And Shed Tears Of Joy After Receiving Vaccine

BETHEL PARK, Pa. (KDKA) — Emotions are high at St. Thomas More Manor.

“They were crying, they were dancing, they were just so elated and so excited about this,” says Sr. Cecilia Marie Kulik, the executive director at St. Thomas More Manor.

After immunizing its health care workers and people over 80 years old who had been in the hospital in the past five years, St. Clair Hospital brought the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine to this 100-unit independent living facility on Friday.

“We wanted to give to people who may not be able to get on a computer or get access via transportation to get a vaccine,” says Dr. Alan Yeasted, the CMO emeritus for St. Clair Hospital.

Of the 90 residents here, 80 are getting the vaccine. But it takes a lot of coordination.

“You need to know how many people you are going to immunize,” said Dr. Yeasted. “We bring only the number that we need because we don’t want to waste any vaccine at all.”

Six hospital staff and the employees at St. Thomas More Manor are helping with this.

“These people are very organized,” one resident told KDKA.

St. Clair Hospital staff will be back in three weeks to give the second dose. This will use up the 7,000 doses the hospital received.

“Right now, we have enough,” Dr. Yeasted said. “We could use a lot more.”

“They’ve tried so many places. They were rushing to the telephone to call their families,” says Sr. Cecilia. “We all sat there and cried because we were just so thrilled and overjoyed.”

St. Thomas More Manor has had no cases of coronavirus. The residents wear masks and stay in their own apartments.

“We have a lot of activities that go on here, and we have curtailed all of that since March,” Sr. Cecilia said.

“Hopefully we can get on with the rest of our lives, what we have left,” said one resident.

Even after everyone gets their second shot, Cecelia wants to be cautious before resuming bingo and card night.

“I’m still probably going to require the masking and the social distancing. We will try to do some things, but I’m not sure yet. We will make that determination at that time,” she said.

Link:  https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2021/01/29/st-thomas-more-manor-residents-coronavirus-vaccine/

For ICU doctor, her work and family are the best antidotes to COVID-19 despair

A 3- by- 5-inch photo is tucked in Dr. Lauren Comisky Rossman’s purse. It’s a picture of the critical care doctor dancing with her father at her wedding, her long, blonde ringlets cascading over a strapless white gown. She doesn’t look at the photo often — COVID-19 protocols don’t allow it in the intensive care unit at St. Clair Hospital — but knowing it is as close as her locker has supported and strengthened her as she and other frontline workers battle the pandemic.

In 2017, Stephen Comisky succumbed to cancer at Dr. Rossman’s Upper St. Clair home. She treasured the privilege of sharing his final days as she regularly witnesses families robbed of similar experiences due to COVID-19 safety measures. The distance between loved ones, especially when one is gravely ill, is what Dr. Rossman calls the hardest part of her job these days.

“My heart breaks when people aren’t able to be with their family members,” she said. “It’s a sad time for many families right now, not just in our community but around the world.”

Dr. Rossman used to listen to the radio on her way to work in Mt. Lebanon. Now she opts for silence. She thinks about the work that lies ahead — and her patients.

“I carry those names in my head, and I keep thinking about them,” she said. “I try to let it go, but these are people in my community…. It’s hard to just switch that off.”

At the end of the day, her work clothes and personal protective equipment, including face masks and a visor, stay at the hospital. Yet the first step when she gets home is to bleach-wipe her shoes. Her next steps are to the washing machine and the shower. Only then can Dr. Rossman hug her husband, Jonathan, 5-year-old son Julian, and 23-month-old daughter Sienna. After a half a day away, she tries to shift right into mom mode, but there are things a hot shower can’t wash away.

Now she’s mom

Dr. Rossman, 38, tries to keep the tragedies (and triumphs) she’s seen to herself to avoid eavesdropping tiny ears. But her husband can read her well, and they both know the best antidote is play.

Julian is an expert money counter thanks to rounds of Monopoly — adult version, not junior. Chutes & Ladders and puzzles are other family favorites. Family walks, even on cold, gray days, provide glints of pre-pandemic normalcy. One healthy distraction is the family’s home gym, where even Julian takes a turn on the Peloton.

Virtual interactions with family and friends are therapeutic, and Dr. Rossman sets aside time almost every day to keep those connections strong. But it’s the support from a network of women, many of whom she’s never met, that grounds her the most.

In 2015, she pioneered a Facebook group of female critical care physicians. She had no inkling what a lifeline the group would be in 2020-21.

“I noticed it was a male-dominated field, and I wanted to get insights from some female intensivists to create a camaraderie and be able to share ideas and support,” she said. “A lot of them are mothers. We’ve been able to come together and be there for each other as people are going through hard situations.”

Together, the 520-member international group has watched the pandemic sweep across the globe. Members have fallen ill from the coronavirus and leaned on each other while recovering. Virus trends and best practices have been shared to the benefit of physicians and patients around the world.

“It’s a huge knowledge bank,” said Dr. Rossman. “With that many minds, the chances of helpful recommendations is so great.”

Frontline family

Time off is not time away from patients. Secure messages from on-service ICU colleagues are exchanged throughout every day, and she checks in with the Facebook group at least once a day.

“I feel like if I were to take a day off of it, I might fall behind. I want to stay as on top of findings and research as much as I can,” said Dr. Rossman. “It’s a daily effort.”

Knowing she would have daily contact with COVID-19, she and her husband discussed whether she would live at home when the pandemic began. They considered a hotel, an apartment and a sequestered area of the house. Sienna was barely 1-year-old and Mr. Rossman works full-time from home.

“We thought so long as I’m diligent with my PPE and sanitization and sanitizing my belongings, we would try it,” said Dr. Rossman. “I’m so glad we did because that was in March, and here we are. I can’t imagine not living with my family for this long.”

She praises St. Clair Hospital for its protocols and PPE and lauds the dedication of her colleagues who apply it correctly each and every time. A gown, gloves, N-95 mask, a secondary mask to protect the N-95, eye protection and a scrub cap are worn even in the most routine patient interactions. A hooded personal respirator — with a tube connected to a waist pack — is worn for higher-risk procedures.

But Mr. Rossman still worries.

“She reassures me all the time that it’s the safest place to be,” he said. “But she’s taking care of a ton of people, and just one accidental thing — that could be her fault or not — could lead to problems down the road. But I’m proud that she’s able to persevere through all of this, and she’s extremely careful and mindful of everything.”

Dr. Rossman has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, which eases her husband’s mind. But with so many people not yet vaccinated, concern lingers.

“It’s personal to me,” he said. “I know that people who [shun COVID-19 precautions] will inevitably infect somebody or infect themselves, and lead to more people being in the hospital, which means more people Lauren has to treat, which means more chances that she can catch it or other people in the community can catch it. It’s a snowball effect, really. It bothers me a lot.”

Discovering her purpose

Dr. Rossman was 8 years old when her 36-year-old mother died after a virus attacked her heart. The tragedy nudged her toward a medical career.

“When the pandemic hit and we were hearing about the cardiac effects of COVID-19 on young, healthy people, it reminded me of why I do this and how personal it is to me,” she said.

The opportunity to care for her own ailing father — who raised her alone on the outskirts of Boston — also informs her approach to her work. Along with her colleagues, Dr. Rossman refuses to let a patient die alone. She believes the presence of a caring human being, whomever they may be, provides comfort for families who must stay distant.

Those moments trigger memories of her father’s last days. She thinks about the photo in her bag more often lately, knowing her father and best friend would worry about her. She daydreams about what she would say to him.

“I’d say, ‘I’m OK, and we’ll all get through it.’”

By:  Abby Mackey, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Link:  https://www.post-gazette.com/news/health/2021/01/17/ICU-doctor-Lauren-Comisky-Rossman-St-Clair-Hospital-Pittsburgh-frontline-worker-COVID-19/stories/202012160004

‘It’s Gonna Try To Knock You Out’: Dormont Man Shares Story Of Survival After Battling Coronavirus

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Marine, retired postal worker and former boxing club director Michael Bayens thought he was invincible.

“If if hits you, it ain’t gonna tap you, it’s gonna try to knock you out,” he says.

He was in the ICU and needed a ventilator, and now he’s sharing his story of survival.

“I never figured I would get it,” he says.

His symptoms at the end of June were mild at first, and he didn’t think much of it.

“I kind of lost appetite, but I wasn’t feeling bad,” he says, “I had no fever. I didn’t have shortness of breath or anything.”

Then July 5, he played darts with buddies at the VFW.

“And when I was up there, I started getting lightheaded, kind of dizzy,” he says.

His wife made him go to the doctor, and his oxygen levels were low. He went by ambulance to the hospital, where he tested positive for coronavirus.

“The way his chest X-ray looked, I knew he was probably going to have to have the ventilator the next day or so, but I wanted to give him every chance not to have it,” says St. Clair Hospital critical care specialist Dr. Gregory Fino. “The next day is when the bottom kind of fell out.”

The doctors put him on a breathing machine, and he was in the ICU for a week.

“When I was on the ventilator, I would wake up with these hallucinations and things,” Michael recalls. “It was like being in a horror film. I could see flames. I could see things flying around me. It scared me.”

Dr. Fino explains Michael’s treatment.

“He received dexamethasone, a steroid, the antiviral drug, Remdesivir, and he also had convalescent plasma,” Dr. Fino says. “The Decadron, we’ve been using that for decades. We’ll have enough of that. Remdesivir is a scarce drug.”

“I had my kidneys shut down, liver shut down. The way my body was shutting down, I was near death,” says Michael.

But he got off the ventilator, and went home five days later.

Dexamethasone, or Decadron, is a steroid and a powerful anti-inflammatory medicine. It wasn’t used as much early on in the pandemic. But in this case, his doctor believes it made the difference.

“I think everything we gave him medication-wise was helpful. I am most impressed with Decadron,” says Dr. Fino.

Once Michael gets off his blood thinner, he will donate convalescent plasma.

“If it can help one person, I’m all for it,” he says.

He has left-sided weakness and a tremor — new since his illness. The doctors tell him this is temporary.

“I don’t know what the after effects are going to be,” Michael says, “This stuff is more vicious than what people think.”

He expects a long road to full recovery.

Link:  https://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2020/08/11/dormont-coronavirus-survivor/

How smaller hospitals around the region are handling the crush of COVID-19 patients

Two smaller hospitals in our region, in Butler and Clarion, reported they are out of ICU beds as COVID-19 cases continue to surge. It’s a problem other small facilities are also looking to work through.

“We have cut back on some of our elective admissions that would require hospital beds, particularly those that would require monitored beds of some sort, in order to create capacity,” said Excela Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Carol Fox.

Around 40% of adults being admitted to Excela hospitals in Westmoreland County have COVID-19. Smaller hospitals like Excela and Washington Health System in Washington County, Heritage Valley in Beaver and Allegheny counties and St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon are being watched closely for capacity issues.

Heritage Valley told Channel 11 the facility is creating additional COVID-19-specific units to deal with increased demand. A spokesperson for St. Clair said the hospital made preparations for a surge in cases earlier in the fall and patient care has not yet been impacted.

Staffing shortages are another issue many health-care companies are dealing with.

“When you look at what the state defines as having some critical staffing needs, we’re in that situation and we reported that to the state,” Fox said.

In our area, there are plans in place to deal with COVID-19 patients regionally with major players UPMC and AHN along with the smaller hospitals. The idea is to handle the situation as a group and potentially lessen the impact so one hospital does not get overwhelmed.

Link:  https://www.wpxi.com/news/top-stories/how-smaller-hospitals-around-region-are-handling-crush-covid-19-patients/NRNJ2CNN5BF75A7JAJY7QG4VEU/

St. Clair Hospital Named A ‘Most Wired’ Hospital

St. Clair Hospital has been named a Level 9 Most Wired hospital in the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives’ 2020 Digital Health Most Wired Survey. A Level 9 designation highlights hospitals that have deployed technologies and strategies (e.g., population health/cost-of-care analytics, HIEs/integration engines, and patient portals) to help them analyze their data and are achieving meaningful clinical and efficiency outcomes.

The mission of the CHIME Digital Health Most Wired program is to elevate the health and care of communities around the world by encouraging the optimal use of information technology. The program does this by conducting an annual survey to identify, recognize, and certify the adoption, implementation, and use of information technology by health care provider organizations. The results are intended to improve patient safety and outcomes by driving change in the health care IT industry.

“We are once again honored to receive CHIME’s Digital Health Most Wired award,” said Richard Schaeffer, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at St. Clair. “At St. Clair, we’ve had a long-standing strategic commitment to the use of systems and technology to not only deliver safe, high quality care, but to additionally promote wellness through the use of patient engagement tools.”

Link:  https://triblive.com/local/south-hills/in-brief-st-clair-hospital-recognized-divorce-workshop-and-more-in-the-south-hills/

Doctors from Mayo Clinic, St. Clair Hospital address multiple facets of COVID-19

For at least three-quarters of a century, nothing has dominated the lives of Americans as pervasively as the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Most know it better as COVID-19, and hear about it constantly. But the information tends to come at at a dizzying pace, with facts often mixing with opinion, conjecture and downright falsehoods.

For those confused over the vast amount of information surrounding the virus, perhaps professionals who have spent the past several months fighting the coronavirus firsthand can make matters clearer.

A recent virtual presentation, dubbed “The Frontline. Online,” featured doctors from the Mayo Clinic and one of its care network members, St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon and Scott Township, speaking about various facets of COVID-19 and answered questions from the public that had been submitted beforehand.

Transmission and safety

One of the queries addressed a contentious point head-on.

“Does wearing a mask really defend against getting the virus?”

Dr. Stephen Colodny, St. Clair’s chief of infectious disease, said COVID-19 primarily is transmitted from person to person, with “the most efficient method” being the spread of droplets that are expelled by activities such as breathing or talking, and in larger amounts, sneezing, coughing or singing.

“These droplets are fairly heavy, and they generally tend to fall to the ground within about six feet, and hence that’s our recommendation for social distancing,” he said.

In that context, covering the face adds a measure of protection, likely for everyone involved.

“There is starting to be some body of evidence that suggests that wearing a mask may prevent you from getting the virus from others, or in the event that you do become infected that you may have a less severe clinical illness,” Colodny said.

“So I still urge people to wear masks when they’re within six feet of others, particularly indoors.”

He confirmed transmission also is possible through contact with contaminated surfaces.

“It’s been shown in the lab that the virus can survive on various surfaces for some periods of time, but in general, they don’t survive for a really long period of time,” he said. “Things like ultraviolet light, heat or humidity may kill virus particles, and most importantly, 60% or greater alcohol kills viruses, usually within a minute.”

To be on the safe side, he advises proper hygiene.

“If you wash your hands frequently, especially after you’ve touched common surfaces – think of things such as doorknobs or light switches – it will help in preventing you from self-contaminating,” he said.

Staying safe during the pandemic extends to considerations beyond precautions against COVID-19, according to Dr. John Sullivan, senior vice president and chief medical officer at St. Clair.

The hospital continues to follow protocols adopted by the Mayo Clinic, from enhanced cleaning to taking temperatures of people entering the building, and has resumed elective procedures following their temporary suspension, with no viral transmissions observed.

“We are concerned, however, that the perceptions of risk in seeking care are still limiting how some people are accessing their routine care,” Sullivan said. “Early on, we even saw examples where people with symptoms of a stroke or heart attack delayed seeking their care. And as we all know, that can be very consequential. Delay in care in those settings, even by minutes and certainly by hours, can lead to worsened outcomes.”

A similar scenario applies to procedures such as colonoscopies and mammograms.

“In almost all cancer diagnoses, early detection is often associated with improved survival,” Sullivan said. “Some parts of the country have seen the decrease in breast cancer screening by almost 50%.”

And so his recommendation is to keep up with basic health maintenance.

“If you have any questions about this, contact your primary care physician to help guide the decisions,” he said. “Many of them are conducting visits via telemedicine to help you as a starting place.”

Treatment and vaccines

Since COVID-19 started wreaking havoc globally, more than 7.5 million cases had been confirmed in the United States as of Oct. 6, including 169,000-plus in Pennsylvania.

How patients are treated varies as the disease progresses, according to Dr. Stacey Rizza, Mayo Clinic executive medical director for international academic affairs. In the early stages, the common practice is to use antiviral medications in attempts to prevent the virus from replicating.

“Then after about a week, people either get better or they get what we call an immune response that’s overreactive,” Rizza said. “It’s essentially the person’s immune system reacting dramatically to the virus, itself. And that’s what causes people to become severely ill.”

At that point, she said, treatment tends toward “medications that block the immune system or change how the immune system is reacting to the virus.”

Overall, a major caveat is practically all of the drugs that could turn out to be effective in battling COVID-19 are in various stages of development and testing.

“Thus far, we really only have one therapeutic that has been proven to be efficacious in the appropriate randomized control trials, and that’s the antiviral medicine called Remdesivir,” Rizza said. It’s been reviewed by the FDA and given what we call emergency use authorization. We know that using it a little bit earlier, during that viral replication phase, seems to be where we see a lot of evidence that it works well.”

The use of steroids also has been the subject of study, although no control trials have been completed.

“But there is very strong evidence around them that keep showing that they do have some effect at protecting patients who are severely ill,” Rizza said.

“So they work more in that second phase, when the body’s immune system is overreacting and steroids are blocking that immune response.”

Perhaps of more interest to Americans in general is the progress of potential COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Andrew Badley, who chairs Mayo’s molecular medicine department, said testing is taking place on about 180 potential vaccines.

“What they’re intended to do is determine if it is safe, and if people who get the vaccine develop an immune response,” he said. “The hope is that the fact that you generate an immune response will translate into reducing the incidence of the disease or reducing the severity of the disease. But today, that is unknown.”

Prior to a vaccine’s approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, some people may want to consider participating in trials.

“At that point, it will be experimental, and you’ll either get the vaccine or a placebo, Badley said, advising those who opt in to, “talk to the investigators. Very much learn about the potential side effects. And then you, as an individual, have to make a cost-benefit decision as to, do the risks outweigh the benefits?”

Approval of a vaccine is unlikely to occur before mid-2021, Badley said.

“When we’re in that situation, much more will be known about the vaccine,” he said, “and so you’ll be able to have a much more detailed discussion with your healthcare provider.”

Families and children

COVID-19 has prompted numerous discussions between concerned parents and Dr. Ruth Christoforetti, a family medicine and primary care physician affiliated with St. Clair Hospital.

And as the summer progressed, a primary topic was education.

“It’s been very challenging to make decisions about sending children to school in person versus keeping them at home as virtual learners, and neither really seems like an ideal situation for the majority of our children and our families,” said Christoforetti, a mother of three. “I think it is very important to keep in mind that there is no right or wrong decision, and each family situation is unique.”

She acknowledged attending school in an environment where other people are present “does increase the risk of transmission.”

“If the school is following safety precautions – such as spacing desks apart, requiring students to wear masks and frequently wash their hands, making sure that there’s adequate ventilation in the school, maybe having the kids spend some time outdoors – those things will help to reduce the risk,” she said.

“It’s also important to think about the school’s plan for if or when there is a case of COVID-19 within the school, and how they would manage that in order to keep other students and teachers and staff safe.”

Colodny fielded a question about the safety of scholastic athletic events.

“Obviously, it depends on the sport and the proximity of the children to each other,” he said. “It depends upon whether they’re outdoors or indoors, and it depends on the risk to other family members.”

He gave a reminder the academic year is relatively new.

“I think that it’s too early to tell whether, in youth sports and high school sports, how much transmission there will be,” Colodny said. “But I would say that running cross country is a whole lot safer than wrestling.”

Christoforetti provided a reminder of COVID-19’s impact on mental health.

“It’s widely known that there are increased rates of depression and anxiety during times of crisis, and this pandemic has been no different,” she said. “In these challenging times with tremendous stress, it’s important that we be kind to each other. If we notice a loved one is struggling, perhaps from depression or anxiety, that we encourage them to reach out for support from family and friends, as well as to seek professional help when needed.”

By Harry Funk, Multimedia Reporter – The Almanac

Link:  https://thealmanac.net/news/doctors-from-mayo-clinic-st-clair-hospital-address-multiple-facets-of-covid-19/article_ce23d32e-0803-11eb-8436-1356a8746c15.htmlhttps://thealmanac.net/news/doctors-from-mayo-clinic-st-clair-hospital-address-multiple-facets-of-covid-19/article_ce23d32e-0803-11eb-8436-1356a8746c15.html

Private labs see increase in wait times for Covid-19 testing results

Most Pittsburgh-region hospitals aren’t seeing an increased lag in Covid-19 test results, although an Allegheny County health official said an extended timeline for some results has occurred due to a crush of testing at the national level.

Allegheny County Health Department Director Dr. Debra Bogen brought up the lag Tuesday afternoon as the county and the rest of southwestern Pennsylvania see the highest case numbers so far in the pandemic. Another 230 cases were reported Tuesday and 1,449 cases since the beginning of July. There were 1,997 new test results overnight with an 11% positivity rate.

“For a while our tests were returning very quickly, usually within two or three days. I have heard about a lag in results recently,” Bogen said. “I think that’s because the national labs are overwhelmed with the new surge in cases.”

Two major test providers, Quest Diagnostics and LabCorp, on Wednesday acknowledged increases in testing around the country has led to a longer-than-normal wait time for results. Quest said priority patients’ wait times are still one day but the average turnaround times for all others have gone from 3-5 days to 4-6 days recently. LabCorp said it could take 1-2 days longer for test results to come in.

“In recent weeks, we have seen a steady increase in demand for Covid-19 molecular testing, and we are doing everything we can to continue delivering results in a timely manner while continually increasing testing capacity,” a LabCorp spokeswoman said.

Neither UPMC nor Allegheny Health Network, the region’s two biggest players in health care, have reported any lag in test results. UPMC, which developed its own test and has deployed it across its system by the tens of thousands, generally gets results back within 24-48 hours, said UPMC spokesman Paul Wood.

AHN also has not seen a lag in testing, and most patients receive their results within 3-5 days. It administers about 300 tests per day across its testing sites and its mobile unit but doesn’t include inpatient tests.

“That number has increased notably since the first two weeks of June where we saw roughly 130 tests on average, per day,” said AHN spokeswoman Nikki Buccina.

St. Clair Hospital in Mt. Lebanon uses a combination of rapid-result tests in its own lab where the results come within the hour and its partnership with the Mayo Clinic for the bulk of its tests, said Dr. John Sullivan, St. Clair’s chief medical officer. There’s been no lag among St. Clair Hospital patients, but Sullivan said he’s heard in the community of some delays elsewhere.

The partnership with the Mayo Clinic has helped St. Clair maintain its testing turnaround times throughout the pandemic, said Meredith Borst, executive director of strategic initiatives at St. Clair.

“We definitely have seen an increase in the number of tests that have come through, but in our turnaround times, they pretty much are constant,” Borst said.

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