DuBOIS — Penn Highlands Healthcare Chief Operating Officer Mark Norman, during a teleconference Thursday, announced that the five-hospital system has started to bring back some of the furloughed employees, “as needed.”

Approximtely 600 were either furloughed or laid off in mid-April due to a decline in elective procedures and preventative care visits as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve been glad to see some area businesses reopening their doors since we’ve entered the yellow phase. Here throughout Penn Highlands, things are progressing positively as well,” said Norman. “We have begun to bring back some employees as needed and we’ll continue to bring back furloughed employees as our volumes increase.”

The number of employees brought back was not disclosed during the call. When contacted after the conference call, PHH officials declined releasing any further details about the furloughs at this time.

Currently, Norman said PHH inpatient and outpatient volumes continue to increase steadily between traditional in-person appointments, procedures and virtual visits using the hospital’s MyHealthNow app.

“This week we can report our volume is currently around 75 percent of our typical pre-pandemic volume,” said Norman. “We continue to monitor volumes and staffing levels, and thankfully we have enough adequate personal protective equipment to safeguard our staff and patients.”

Norman said PHH facilities “are safe, we’re open and we’re ready to care for our patients. Especially in our emergency departments, we’re glad patients are making the decision to get the care that they need.”

“We’re committed to making sure our communities knows that Penn Highlands provides the safest, highest quality care in the area, and to that end, we’ve launched a campaign we call ‘Still Here,’” said Norman.

The campaign, he said, speaks to PHH’s motto telling communities that, “We’re here, here for you.”

The campaign included a letter to the communities from CEO Steve Fontaine, along with a series of videos about how PHH is providing the safest care across the wide range of services from emergency room visits to lab and radiology services to doctor’s office visits and the telemedicine app, said Norman.

Across the system, Norman said PHH employees are wearing the color blue to show their pride in the role Penn Highlands has fulfilled for patients and communities.

“It’s been great to see the public .... participating with us as well,” said Norman.

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