COVID 19 - Supporting Efforts to Keep Our Community Healthy

By William Caldwell, chief executive officer of Conemaugh Health System

Our community – along with communities around the world – is navigating unprecedented challenges as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread. The cycle of our lives and neighborhoods has been altered, and we are all working to accommodate an ever-changing new normal. Fear and uncertainty complicate our collective abilities to do this.  

Conemaugh Health System is dedicated to helping everyone in our region navigate the COVID-19 environment in which we are all living right now. We have received many questions from our patients, partners and neighbors about how people can assist our efforts to keep our community as safe and healthy as possible. 

Here are some important actions everyone can take:
1. Stay home. In times of trouble, our first instinct is to reach out – to come together and help one another. That’s why so many people are struggling with the best and most crucial advice healthcare experts are giving: stay at home and keep your distance from friends, neighbors, and even family. But we all must listen to and follow this advice. People’s lives depend on it – especially our healthcare workers and those who are over 60 or already live with underlying health conditions.
We encourage everyone to stay in your own home as much as possible. Only go out if you have to, and choose a time to go to the grocery or pharmacy when it’s not crowded. If you see other people, try to stay at least six feet away from them, and don’t touch them. No handshakes, hug, or kisses. Remember: a lot of people who are carrying this virus won’t show any symptoms. So, the surest way to avoid catching it is to maintain social distance and cancel all gatherings, even small ones.

2. Follow medical guidance. If you believe you have been exposed to COVID-19, we recommend that you self-monitor for fever or symptoms of respiratory illness for 14 days. If you begin to experience fever or symptoms of respiratory illness, and they are mild enough that you can manage them at home, you should remain at home in isolation.
Be alert to any changing symptoms and seek medical attention if your symptoms worsen. If you feel you need to visit your healthcare provider, call ahead before you arrive to tell them you’re experiencing symptoms that may be related to COVID-19. This will allow your provider’s office staff to properly prepare for your visit and take the necessary precautions to keep others from being infected or exposed.
If you are experiencing a medical emergency, please call 9-1-1 and notify the dispatch agent that your emergency is related to possible COVID-19 symptoms.

3. Donate medical and protective equipment and supplies. Hospitals across our nation are bracing for shortages of medical and protective equipment and supplies such as disposable masks, gowns, gloves and shoe covers. These are essential in protecting our staff on the front lines of caring for patients. If you have supplies and equipment such as these, please consider donating them to regional hospitals. Those with unused supplies and equipment to donate may contact to arrange delivery. 

4. Donate blood. In addition to potential supply shortages, healthcare providers are preparing for blood shortages. Many communities have had to cancel blood drives due to COVID-19, so blood in many regions is in short supply. Donating blood is a safe process, and you can help out by calling 1.800.733.2767 or visiting to find a donation location near you.

Conemaugh Health System is grateful for our community’s ongoing support and cooperation as we work to protect local families from the spread of COVID-19. We appreciate all that you do and will continue to provide information on what we know about the virus and how you can help us keep our region healthy.  Visit for more information or call 814.534.9000 with any questions you may have.