COVID-19 update: Hired EMS may help Pike volunteers as cases rise

Milford. Cases in Pike County reach 125: mayor says EMS personnel will save local volunteers from exhaustion. "Sponsor a senior" as demand for home-delivered meals skyrockets in Pike County. Kids are invited to a Zoom storytime with the police chief. The Milford Relief Fund nears $5,000. Dingmans Medical Center offers drive-through testing. Wayne Memorial confirms COVID patients in isolation unit. Diocese of Scranton establishes emergency fund. Religious leaders urge celebrating Easter and Passover safely. State provides businesses with direction on cleaning buildings. State provides direction on cleaning buildings. Pennsylvania has high rate of seniors with underlying health conditions.

06 Apr 2020 | 02:20

EMS personnel may help volunteers as cases rise

As coronavirus cases in Pike County continue to rise, emergency medical professionals may be called upon to help volunteer first responders handle the expected uptick of calls.

Mayor Sean Strub said the Milford Borough Council, in consultation with Fire Chief Jeff Christensen, voted unanimously to provide funding for personnel from an EMS staffing service.

"This will help us respond to the call volume without exhausting those who have already given so much," said Strub.

The number of cases in Pike County is 125, and two deaths, as of Monday, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

"Of the 16 fire departments in Pike County, ours is one of the busiest," said Strub. "With recent COVID-related calls, the ambulance service is exceptionally busy. On average, they respond to 900 calls per year, but this year it is expected to surpass that number significantly, at a time when the need is greater and it is even more difficult to recruit volunteers."

Strub said Sunday that the trend in Pike County "is still going skyward, still steepening the curve rather than flattening it over the past week. Our peak is expected to be 7 to 10 days from now."

He said one promising sign is that Pike, which had the second-highest concentration of cases per capita of any county in Pennsylvania for several weeks, fell this week to fifth-highest.He paid tribute to the people who are keeping the borough going during the crisis.

"We are so fortunate to have Chief McCormick, Assistant Chief Sal Pinzone, Sergeant Jack DaSilva, Corporal John Troyan and an entire police department committed to community policing," said Strub. "There is nothing I or the council have asked of the department that they have not stepped forward to do willingly, cheerfully and with the best interests of Milford at heart. They have been amazing and deserve our thanks.

"Just as amazing, and also putting their personal health and safety at risk, are the volunteers at the Milford Fire Department and EMS Station. When the call comes in for an ambulance, they are the ones who jump up in the middle of dinner with their family, or get out of bed at 3 a.m., or leave their jobs in the middle of the day, to help save lives."

Demand for home-delivered meals skyrockets

The Pike County Area Agency on Aging is asking members of the public to "sponsor a senior," to aid its Home Delivered Meal Program as demand has grown exponentially.

In January, the agency reported that it delivers 5,868 meals to homebound residents in Pike County every quarter. On April 5, the agency said the number has grown to 800 to 1,000 meals delivered every week.

"We ask for donation of $3 per meal, but some find it difficult to make that donation," said the agency in its solicitation. "We are asking for your support and help."

Sponsoring a senior citizen for $15 will cover the cost of meals for a week. Donations of any amount are welcome.

The agency says the federal government, local funds, and the Pennsylvania Lottery provide only a portion of the total cost of its Home Delivered Meal Program.

To make a donation, visit pikeaaa.org, which includes a PayPal app, or send them to the Pike County Area Agency on Aging, 150 Pike County Boulevard, Lords Valley, PA 18428. For more information call 570-775-5550.

The Pennsylvania Council on Aging is conducting a survey to understand how older Pennsylvanians are coping with social isolation during the COVID-19 crisis. The Pike County Area Agency on Aging is asking residents age 60 and up to complete the survey at form.jotform.com/200854578445059.

Storytime with the Milford Police Department

Milford Police Chief Matt McCormack and his team are working with Joe Dooley and Annette Haar, both members of Milford’s Public Safety Committee, to host storytime sessions for children on Zoom.

Storytime is geared to children age 3 to 7, with an opportunity for the kids to ask questions of the officer reading the story.

The first storytime will be held at 7:45 p.m. on Thursday, April 9. The login details will be posted on the Milford Covid Volunteer Task Force Facebook page and other Milford pages.

Milford Relief Fund nears $5,000

The Milford Covid Relief Fund at the Greater Pike Community Foundation is nearing $5,000 raised. The fund will provide grants to non-profit organizations to support relief efforts to help Milford residents, businesses and those who work in Milford who have been harmed by the Covid epidemic.

Donations can be made online at greaterpike.org or through a check payable to “GPCF/MCRF” and sent to: Greater Pike Community Foundation, 201 Broad Street, P.O. Box 992 Milford PA 18337.

Dingmans Medical Center offers drive-through testing

Dingmans Medical Center at 1592 Route 739 in Dingmans Ferry is offering drive-through testing to people who have symptoms or possible exposure to COVID-19.

The testing is available to all, regardless of residency. Patients are first screened through a virtual visit, then will be told what time to come for the drive-through testing. There should be no one else in the vehicle, except for minors, during the test.

Test results may take from three to seven days.

Televisits are billed to insurance. To see if Dingman Medical accepts your insurance, visit dingmansmedical.com.

Existing patients should call 570-828-8000 to schedule their Televisit. New patients should pre-register by on the Dingman Medical website.

Wayne Memorial confirms COVID patients in isolation unit

Wayne Memorial Hospital says it has admitted and treated both confirmed positive patients and “persons under investigation,” a Centers for Disease Control term referring to people who may have been exposed.

Some patients were discharged to home after treatment and evaluation. As of Monday, several patients remain in the isolation unit. The number changes daily, hospital officials said.

"We turned a former patient unit on our third floor in our older hospital building into a ‘containment unit,’ complete with infection-control barrier walls and negative-pressure rooms,” said James Pettinato, RN, director of Patient Care Services.

Negative pressure rooms are designed to assure contaminated air does not pass into adjoining hallways or other rooms.

The third floor unit also offers decompression changing rooms to assure staff can safely strip out of their multiple layers of personal protective equipment (PPE) and are “clean” when they exit the unit.

Pettinato added that, so far, the hospital has had enough ventilators for its needs, although staff is preparing for possible shortages.

“There are some creative options out there which we are investigating," Pettinato said.

The hospital has cancelled elective surgeries but, although its focus has been on COVID -19, has not closed its doors to patients in need. "Whether they have a chronic disease or an emergency or are expecting a baby, Wayne Memorial stands ready to treat them — and keep them out of harm’s way," said David Hoff, chief executive officer.

Diocese of Scranton establishes emergency fund

Bishop Joseph C. Bambera announced the establishment of the Coronavirus Emergency Fund in the Diocese of Scranton to help support public ministries, parishes and school families amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fund will allow individuals to financially support any parish in the Diocese, assist public ministries that operate food pantries, kitchens and shelters, or provide emergency tuition assistance for Diocesan Catholic School families. People interested in supporting the fund can make a gift to a specific parish, school, pantry, kitchen, shelter or relief assistance program.

“While this is a time of great challenge, I am encouraged to see so many people wanting to reach out in support of our families, our neighbors and our parishes,” Bishop Bambera said. “Due to the suspension of Masses, which was necessary to protect the health and safety of our community, our parishes and the Diocese now face the increased risk of financial shortfalls.”

Donations may be made online at dioceseofscranton.org/emergencyfund, or mailed to: Coronavirus Emergency Fund, Diocese of Scranton, 300 Wyoming Ave., Scranton, PA 18503. Checks should be made to the Diocese of Scranton and list the gift designation – either the parish name, Catholic Human and Social Service program or specific Catholic School they wish to support.

Celebrate the holidays safely

Governor Tom Wolf and religious leaders from across the commonwealth are encouraging alternative forms of faith gatherings.

“As a person of faith, I understand how important it is to worship, and that congregating, whether for a service or seder dinner, can be at the very core of one’s faith," Wolf said. "But I also understand how important it is to help neighbors, and the best way to help our neighbors right now is not by congregating. It’s by staying at home.”

State provides direction on cleaning buildings

The Pennsylvania Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. Rachel Levine, has provided direction for maintaining and cleaning buildings for businesses authorized to maintain in-person operations.

According to the Building Safety Measures order, which went into effect on Monday, “Cleaning, disinfecting, and other maintenance and security services performed by building service employees are critical to protecting the public health by reducing COVID-19 infections in the commonwealth.”

The measures outlined in the order are for owners of buildings of at least 50,000 square feet used for commercial, industrial or other enterprises, including but not limited to facilities for warehousing, manufacturing, commercial offices, airports, grocery stores, universities, colleges, government, hotels, and residential buildings with at least 50 units.

The new protocols call for disinfecting high-touch areas routinely, ensuring that the facility has a sufficient number of cleaners and of security employees to control access, maintain order, and enforce social distancing of at least six feet.

PA has high rate of seniors with underlying health conditions

Pennsylvania ranks 19 among states that have the biggest population of senior citizens with underlying health conditions, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Among this population, 18.85 percent have diabetes, 9.2 percent have cardiovascular disease, 12.35 have COPD, and 10.15 have asthma,

There are 76 million Americans are over 60 years old with underlying health conditions. West Virginia, Kentucky, and Alabama have the most at-risk group of seniors, while Minnesota, Colorado, and Massachusetts have the lowest number of at-risk seniors.

Michigan, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana are the most at-risk states when comparing the number of at-risk seniors and confirmed cases of COVID-19.