UPMC adds hundreds of nurses, bed capacity amid COVID-19 surge

UPMC, a 40-hospital academic medical system based in Pittsburgh, has brought in more nursing help, added beds and continues to expand telemedicine use as COVID-19 cases rise in Pennsylvania and other areas of the country, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

UPMC Senior Vice President Leslie Davis said during a news conference Dec. 8 that the additional nursing help is coming from several places. 

"We have a lot of nurses that work within UPMC who have clinical nursing backgrounds, and (they're) not working at the bedside, and they have volunteered to move back and work at the bedside," said Ms. Davis, also executive vice president and COO of the health services division. "We have other nurses who work what's called flex part-time, and we've done that to be flexible in the marketplace and competitive, and those nurses are now working full-time instead of part-time, so that gives us several hundred nurses.

"We use agency nurses like everyone else does, travelers, folks who come here for six or eight weeks for an assignment, and who may have a particular experience with COVID-19 because they've worked in other parts of the country. It's all of the above."

UPMC is taking other steps as well. After examining its data, it shortened quarantine periods from 14 days to 10 days — and soon to seven days — so asymptomatic workers could return to their jobs more quickly, the health system told Becker's.

UPMC said it has also found ways to quickly add beds. This includes accelerating the opening of a new intensive care unit a few weeks ago at UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh. UPMC said its older ICU was converted into a step-down unit, which provides intermediate care. This created 12 more beds for patient care. 

UPMC also said it continues to expand its use of telemedicine for inpatient and outpatient care, with a record 1 million ambulatory telemedicine visits provided this year.  


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