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The temporary treatment center to be set up at Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena would be used to treat COVID-19 patients who do not require acute care, state health officials said Tuesday.
But they reiterated Tuesday that they’re setting up the Portland site and one in Bangor as a precaution only, and that they would prefer not to use them.
The state is working with local hospital systems to set up the temporary sites so they’re available in case a surge in coronavirus cases overwhelms hospitals and the health care system needs additional capacity.
The Portland site would join a temporary care site at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor that would treat patients who don’t have coronavirus but still need a hospital level of care before they can be sent home. Northern Light Health, the Brewer-based hospital system that would oversee care at the site, told the Bangor Daily News about its plans for the site last week, suggesting that some patients who might need physical therapy or are recovering from surgery could use the site.
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The Portland-based MaineHealth hospital system would oversee care at the Portland care site.
“Our goal is to keep people in hospitals wherever possible, and only go to alternative care sites should we need to,” Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew said.
Currently, the sites aren’t needed, but the Department of Health and Human Services is working with the hospital systems to plan for and staff the sites.
The Portland site will have 100 beds while the Bangor site will have 50, Lambrew said.
As of Tuesday, 58 people across the state who had tested positive for COVID-19 were hospitalized. Of those, 21 are in intensive care units and nine are on ventilators, according to Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Nirav Shah.
However, Maine has 283 available ventilators and 153 available critical care beds in hospitals. The CDC continues to check on available hospital resources daily, and so far Maine has not seen the number of patients exceed the available resources.
A widely used model developed at the University of Washington that projects the trajectory of coronavirus cases nationwide projected that Tuesday would mark the peak of Maine’s use of hospital resources, including hospital beds, intensive care unit beds and ventilators.
Shah said the state will not know for months whether Tuesday was the peak, but he warned against putting too much stock in a single model.
“The reason we do modeling is not to predict when we might be at the peak, but to be able to plan for what resources we might need whenever that peak happens, whatever it might look like,” he said.
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