proactively working to be prepared in the event of PPE shortage

Pen Bay Medical Center, Waldo County General Hospital have COVID-19 surge plans in place

Sat, 03/21/2020 - 6:00pm

ROCKPORT — A March 20 check-in with Pen Bay Medical Center, in Rockport, and Waldo County General Hospital, in Belfast, indicated that both are prepared for possible surge in COVID-19 patients. They are, as well, currently adequately outfitted with personal protection equipment (PPE), but constantly reassessing.

With the national discussion now focused on enough PPE for health care workers — nurses, CNAs, doctors and maintenance staff — all of those in close contact with the COVID-19 virus, Maine is no exception. On Friday, March 20, the schools in Camden and Rockport donated their boxes of nitrile gloves to the hospital.

As of March 21, there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Knox or Waldo counties; there are four confirmed cases in Lincoln County, as well as other counties in the state. Six cases in Cumberland County have been confirmed at one retirement community in Falmouth.

Locally, health care workers are in a state of preparedness.

“When we talk about surge capacity planning, we are thinking about a large influx of patients due to any acute community medical crisis, infectious or otherwise,” said Jenifer Harris, spokesperson for Pen Bay and Waldo, on March 21. “We have surge plans in place and are also collaborating with our colleagues across the system so that we can share resources to care for our patients.”

MaineHealth, based in Portland, is the umbrella nonprofit that owns Pen Bay, Waldo and Miles Hospital, in Damariscotta. MaineHealth also owns Maine Medical Center, in Portland, which is currently treating COVID-19 patients.

Last week, Pen Bay and Waldo revised its visitor policies, restricting access except for those visiting pediatric and obstetric patients, as well as palliative care and hospice patients.

According to Harris, the two hospitals have adequate supplies of PPE, “and we are continuously monitoring our inventory,” she said. “We anticipate that we may face supply chain challenges in the future and are proactively working to be prepared if that occurs.”

Maine’s Congressional delegation wrote a joint letter (see sidebar) urging the federal government to “quickly distribute personal protective equipment (PPE) to Maine.”

“We closely follow CDC guidance to ensure our care team members are safe,” she said.

As of Saturday, March 21, 2,264 Maine residents have tested negative for COVID-19. 

“ Fewer than 10 have required hospitalization; none of these have been at WCGH or PBMC,” said Harris.

Every day, at noon, the Maine CDC updates the number of confirmed, presumptive positive and negative cases in Maine. 

“The CDC is best situated to provide the community with the most accurate and up-to-date information,” she said. “As such it is important that we continue to rely on the CDC for all data related to testing. We know that there are a lot of community concerns about COVID-19 testing. On March 19, the Maine CDC released helpful information to guide us through this process: maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/newhan.shtml.”