As of 11 a.m. Monday, March 16, eight Maine residents have been confirmed positive and nine others are presumed positive for the coronavirus, according to the state. 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.
Bangor’s two hospitals are starting to delay some elective procedures and limit visits to patients as they try to make sure they have enough beds and resources to handle a possible influx of coronavirus cases.
Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center and St. Joseph Healthcare are also working to set up a shared satellite testing facility later this week where patients can be screened for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, on their doctors’ orders. They hope to allow those patients to be able to drive up to the facility to minimize their contact with health care providers and free up space in the hospitals.
So far, Maine has confirmed eight cases of the coronavirus in the state and identified another nine people who are likely to have it. Of the 17 cases, 13 have been reported in Cumberland County, two in Lincoln County, one in Knox County and one in Androscoggin County, according to Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah.
Dr. James Jarvis, EMMC’s senior vice president and senior physician executive, said the organization did not make the decision to delay some “elective procedures, office visits and diagnostic testing” lightly. The organization did not specify what specific services could be delayed, but said the decisions would be based on physician guidance.
“It will cause some consternation for some individuals as their appointments may be canceled or their surgeries rescheduled,” Jarvis said during a news conference Monday. “We are doing this out of an abundance of caution to help slow down the spread of this disease.”
Like other health care organizations, Northern Light has also started opening satellite facilities outside its 10 hospitals to allow for easier testing of patients for COVID-19 — although patients still need permission from their providers to be able to receive tests and are urged to call ahead first.
In Bangor, EMMC is working with the city of Bangor, St. Joseph Healthcare and Penobscot Community Healthcare to open such a facility. The organizations did not say where in Bangor the facility could be.
On Monday, Northern Light also opened a satellite drive-up testing facility at its southernmost hospital: Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland. It plans to open similar facilities at its hospitals in Waterville and Hancock County throughout the rest of this week and early next week. It plans to open drive-up facilities in Aroostook County later next week.
Northern Light’s 10 hospitals stretch from Portland in the south to Presque Isle in northern Maine.
Some other health care organizations, including Lewiston-based Central Maine Healthcare, have already opened such testing facilities.
Watch: What you need to know about handwashing during coronavirus