The number of coronavirus patients admitted to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor has continued peaking during the last few days of 2020 even as the numbers have leveled off slightly at other hospitals around the state.
A record high 55 coronavirus patients were hospitalized at the Bangor hospital on New Year’s Eve, accounting for nearly a third of the state’s roughly 177 daily virus hospitalizations, according to data from parent organization Northern Light Health.
An average of 52 patients were hospitalized at EMMC — the state’s second largest hospital — each day over the last week, up from 44 in the week before Christmas and 27 in the week before that.
That uptick comes as the state’s largest hospital, Maine Medical Center in Portland, has averaged just 32 patients in the last week.
The total number of coronavirus patients hospitalized in Maine has also tapered off somewhat from a record high of 198 on Dec. 14, according to the COVID Tracking Project. It has averaged 183 over the last week.
However, some health officials have expressed concern that indoor gatherings and travel from the Christmas and New Years holidays could contribute to new waves of infections in the coming weeks even as health care workers and nursing home residents start to get vaccinated.
At EMMC, officials recently placed new restrictions on family visits to patients to help lower the risk of spreading the virus. The hospital also recently had to contain a coronavirus outbreak that infected at least 48 people, including some patients in a surgical post-operative unit. However, the hospital said that some of the cases were also caused by workers catching the virus out in the community.
So far, the hospital has not had to take dramatic steps to free up staff and capacity such as systematically delaying other procedures such as mammograms and colonoscopies, according to Northern Light Health spokesperson Suzanne Spruce.
“Our increasing numbers across Northern Light Health [hospitals] and specifically at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center are, of course, a continued concern,” Spruce said. “At this time we are able to maintain our critical and routine services, but continue to monitor bed capacity, staffing, and other resources and will adjust accordingly.”
Spruce also reiterated the need for Mainers to take steps to limit the spread of coronavirus and decrease the risk that more workers or people could get sick, including “wearing face coverings in public, avoiding gatherings outside of their household, practicing good hand hygiene and remaining at least six feet apart.”