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Strike Teams On Their Way To Support Pa. Hospitals During COVID-19 Surge

By: KDKA-TV News Staff

HARRISBURG (KDKA) -- Strike teams are being sent to hospitals in the state as the health care system continues to struggle against the latest COVID-19 wave.

The Wolf administration made the announcement on Tuesday. FEMA approved Governor Wolf's appeal for assistance from earlier this month.

Federal officials will decide where the strike teams are going in Pennsylvania while state agencies assess the needs of various health care systems.

KDKA's Jennifer Borrasso reached out to a half-dozen hospital systems in the Pittsburgh area, and none had any details about the teams.

"Staffing is our number one issue across the state right now," Allegheny Health Network Chief Medical Officer Dr. Don Whiting said. "At AHN last year we had 300 nursing openings. Now, we have 1,100."

The news of strike teams is welcomed news for AHN.

"Last year, we had staff and we could open more beds when we needed them," Whiting said. "Now, we don't have the staff. So those strike teams would be very welcomed to add staff."

Penn Highlands Healthcare in the Mon Valley released a statement, saying:

"At this time we have not had any discussions with the Commonwealth or FEMA regarding strike teams. Like every other hospital in the country, we are running full."

Dr. Carol Fox, the chief medical officer at Excela Health, said the hospital system would request the assistance of strike teams in the event "we believe they are required to support our staff."

Heritage Valley Health System said it would welcome any assistance.

The Wolf administration says they are meeting now to learn more about where the strike teams will be deployed and how they will help to alleviate the burden on health care workers.

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