As of 1 p.m. Friday, March 13, test results show that two Maine residents have tested presumptive positive for the coronavirus. Click here for the latest coronavirus news, which the BDN has made free for the public. You can support this mission by purchasing a digital subscription.
Central Maine Healthcare officials said Saturday that the three-hospital system is postponing some elective surgeries and limiting access to buildings starting on March 16.
“As our hospitals contend with the very real challenge of screening for COVID-19, while caring for our many patients, it made sense to do everything we could to lower the risk of disease transmission in our hospitals,” said John Alexander, M.D., chief medical officer for the health system.
Central Maine Healthcare’s three hospitals are Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, Rumford Hospital and Bridgton Hospital.
In another risk-prevention move, on Friday the hospital system started testing patients for COVID-19 and influenza in satellite screening sites set up near their emergency departments.
The first person in Maine with a presumptive positive test for the new coronavirus was seen in the emergency department at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. The U.S. Navy reservist in her 50s was tested at the hospital Tuesday and the test results were revealed by Gov. Janet Mills on Thursday.
Starting Monday, some elective surgeries involving overnight stays at the three hospitals will be put off until the virus hazard has been reduced. That includes bariatric and some orthopedic procedures.
MaineHealth is not yet suspending elective procedures, spokesperson John Porter said.
However, the hospital today limited visiting hours to 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. No visitors under age 18 are allowed because they don’t show symptoms of being infected, the hospital said.
All visitors will be screened before entering any Maine Medical Center building, including being asked questions about whether they are experiencing symptoms or have been in contact with someone who is sick from COVID-19 or another respiratory illness.
Earlier today registered nurses at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center said the hospital had agreed to set limits on visits and to enhance security and screening at hospital entrances.
Central Maine Healthcare will continue to do necessary or required surgeries like Caesarean sections and heart valve repair.
Same-day procedures like endoscopy and colonoscopy and minimally invasive surgeries, where the patient goes home within several hours, will continue as scheduled.
The new policy aims to reduce the number of inpatients at the system’s hospitals and free up beds in case there is a surge of sick patients, the hospital said. It will also reduce traffic in the hospitals to lower the risk of virus transmission.
The system has also restricted access to its hospitals, prohibiting most visitors and reducing the number of entry points. At Central Maine Medical Center, patient access will be through the main entrance at 60 High St. in Lewiston. Staff access has also been limited, officials said.
Watch: What older adults need to know about COVID-19