Government Neighbors

County Gets Medical Supplies, Overflow Hospital Locations Considered


Emergency Management Director Scott Forster briefing the media on Wednesday. Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com

Bucks County emergency responders and medical professionals will be able to take advantage of thousands of medical supplies delivered on Wednesday.

Inside the county Emergency Operations Center in Ivyland Borough, staff sorted through 21,000 N-95 masks, 21,000 surgical masks, 1,700 face shields, 1,600 surgical gowns, and thousands of protective gloves arrived. The supplies were being sorted and distributed Thursday and Friday across facilities in the 620-square-mile county.

Emergency Management Agency Director Scott Forster said the bulk of N-95 masks and surgical masks came through the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile.

Forster said the rest of the supplies were purchased from various vendors with county money. Currently, about 75 percent of the goods purchased by the county will be eligible for federal reimbursement.

Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com

“These are materials that are very hard to get, and were obtained only after calling dozens of vendors,” Forster said. “And little by little, everyone has come through to provide us with the equipment that our folks need to be sure that they’re safe while they take care of our residents.”

The county has made requests for supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile and expects to receive more materials in the coming weeks. Among the items the county is looking to source from government and vendors are cleaning supplies.

Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com

Forster explained that it has been a very competitive process to get medical supplies through government agencies and vendors. He added that many orders that were placed were later cancelled by vendors.

The Levittown-area’s three hospitals have said they’re not overwhelmed with patients, Forster pointed out that officials are worried about a surge of patients in the coming weeks.

Dr. David Damsker said hospitals are using numerous measures to allow for more capacity and to protect other patients.

“I think the hospitals have done a very good job navigating for the future,” he said.

According to federal data, there are about 90 ICU beds across Bucks County’s hospitals.

Forster said that the COVID-19 pandemic is a marathon and not a sprint.

Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com

“Unfortunately, in the coming weeks we are going to see an increase in our cases and the number of people we have to take care of,” emergency management director said.

The county will work to provide the supplies to hospitals, doctor’s offices, retirement and long-term care facilities, and other physical and mental health providers, Forster said.

On Wednesday, Forster said county officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers evaluated two unused medical facilities – one in Upper Bucks County and Middletown – for use as potential overflow hospitals.

Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com

“We don’t need them now, but we may need them for patient overflow in a surge,” he said.

The results of the facility assessments are due in by the end of the week. If the two closed medical facilities are found suitable, a deal would be struck with the owners and the Army and county would convert them to patient use.

Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com
Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com
Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com

About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for five years for both newspaper and online publications. In 2012, Tom was honored at the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation's Keystone Press Awards for his coverage of President Obama's visit to Falls Township in 2011. When he's not covering news in the area, Tom enjoys checking out the newest restaurants and bars, exploring forgotten places of industry in the area, going to local parks and spending time with his friends and family. If there's one thing you should know about Tom, he is a local news junkie through and through. Email: tom@newtownpanow.com Phone: 215-431-1001