Geisinger reports first case of pediatric inflammatory syndrome

Dr. Jaewon Ryu

DANVILLE — The Geisinger Health System has seen its first case of pediatric inflammatory syndrome, which occurs in children who test positive for coronavirus.

Geisinger President and CEO Dr. Jaewon Ryu confirmed during a Friday media conference the health system has seen its first case of the syndrome.

“We are very fortunate in this regard, that we have our own children’s hospital here in Danville,” he said. “These are complicated issues with a very serious disease... Our team of experts is rapidly working for the betterment of the health of that person.”

He provided no further details on the circumstances surrounding the individual diagnosed with the syndrome.

To date, he said Geisinger has tested 20,000 people for COVID-19. Of those, 14% have tested positive for the virus.

Of those who test positive, Ryu said between 14 and 17% have been admitted to Geisinger hospitals.

While approximately 500 people have been admitted within the health system for treatment of COVID-19, Ryu said there are currently around 60 hospitalized across the health system.

“That’s the lowest level we’ve seen, really, since early April,” he said. “We continue to see a downward trend... which suggests in the next week or two we should continue to see a decrease in the number of people in our hospitals.”

Ryu said data indicates the spread of the virus is declining across the region.

“It’s now more important than ever that we don’t let up on all of the precautionary measures,” he said, adding that it’s important to follow social distancing, masking and regular hand washing.

When asked about the health system’s use of hydroxychloroquine to treat those diagnosed with COVID-19, he said the drug should only be used in the hospital setting. He noted that the drug is known to cause irregular heartbeats.

“We have limited (hydroxychloroquine) to use inside the hospital, where patients are monitored,” Ryu said. “Even within that popluation, we think it’s more important for (treatment in) certain segments than others.”

He said the hospital has protocols in place to determine which patients the drug can be given to.

“It’s an unproven drug,” Ryu said. “It does have dangerous side effects, it’s not something to be taken lightly. If it is used, we think it should be inside the hospital.”

Staff writer Kevin Mertz can be reached at 570-742-9671 or email kevin@standard-journal.com.

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