Air-handling equipment that helps prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria has now been installed in more than half of patient rooms at WellSpan Gettysburg Hospital.

Work done last week added 34 “negative pressure rooms” to the hospital’s total, according to a news release issued Thursday by WellSpan.

The hospital undertook the “significant effort” in order to “prepare for a projected rise in the number of people who may require care for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus,” according to the release.

Rooms were converted “by adding negative pressure units that draw in air from the room, filter the air, and externally release the air from each room. The work to convert these rooms was performed so that it was not disruptive to ongoing patient care,” according to the release.

Negative pressure rooms are used in hospitals to contain contaminants, such as viruses and bacteria, according to the release.

The rooms can be used for patients with other infections and “are required for certain treatment and procedures in the care of COVID-19 patients. The hospital has taken this step in anticipation of an increased need for these rooms in the coming weeks,” according to the release.

WellSpan Health is following the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, according to the release.

CDC guidance was modified in the past week so use of negative pressure rooms is reserved “for specific procedures with more seriously ill patients and is no longer recommended for the routine care of patients who are suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19,” according to the release.

“The health and safety of our patients and staff is our highest priority, and it is at the forefront of our efforts to combat the spread of this pandemic in our community,” according to the release.

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