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Protecting hospitals protects patients

CATERRI WOODRUM

Durham

A spotlight has remained on our hospitals and health care workers over the last few months, and rightfully so. They have heroically maintained the front line in providing care for patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. But that support must continue or patients will be greatly impacted.

Before COVID-19, medical professionals, including those with Geisinger Health System, focused on treating patients for other newly discovered diseases, including autoimmune encephalitis (AE), in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy brain cells. Like COVID-19, AE is hard to diagnose without tests, patients can endure a rapid onset of a combination of symptoms and may find themselves in an intensive care unit. To treat AE, it often requires a team of physicians, including neurologists, rheumatologists, psychiatrists, immunologists and others.

To have access to such a team of health care specialists — that will help save lives — we need to support our hospitals now more than ever to ensure their sustainability.

As a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis, Pennsylvania’s hospitals are facing a $10 billion loss that could lead to facility closures and continued layoffs of those who deliver critical care — not just for AE patients but for all patients.

As Gov. Tom Wolf and the General Assembly decide how to disburse CARES Act funding, they need to keep the continued health of the commonwealth top of mind. We need to protect our hospitals to protect patients.

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