10/22/20 at 5PM:
L-R: John Swanberg, President and CEO of Aroostook Savings and Loan; Kris Doody, RN, Cary Medical Center CEO; Doug Plourde, Chairman of the Cary Board of Directors; Dr. Regan Gallagher, Cary’s Chief Medical Officer
The Aroostook County Federal Savings and Loan Association has made a $20,000 donation to Cary Medical Center. The donation will be used by the hospital to purchase a second PCR instrument.
PCR or Polymerase Chain Reaction technology has been a critical tool in the testing for the COVID 19 Pandemic. The new instrument will double the hospital’s capability to complete these tests.
The PCR machine converts the genetic material of the virus (RNA) to DNA. Using enzymes and other building blocks the DNA is copied millions of times so that if the virus is present it can be identified or determined to be ‘Positive’. The instrument is used in multiple ways beyond COVID 19 and can detect all kinds of bacteria, parasites, fungi and more. Regen Gallagher, DO and Chief Medical Officer at Cary, said that the donation by the bank comes at a critical time for the hospital’s management of the COVID 19 Pandemic.
“We are very grateful for this generous donation”, said Gallagher who heads up Cary’s pandemic response. “This allows us to run more of our COVID testing in-house and get results more quickly than when we send testing out. Thanks to the bank’s donation we can now test 12 patients at a time or run COVID testing on one machine while we run other PCR testing on the other, resulting in less delays for all kinds of PCR testing.”
Gallagher said that the hospital is now testing all patients prior to admission to the hospital, some pre-operative patients prior to surgery, and hospital employees who have symptoms and become asymptomatic and are required to have a negative test prior to them returning to work. Having a quick turnaround on tests for patients that might have COVID who are being admitted allows us to conserve personal protective equipment, which is still a limited resource.
John Swanberg, President and Chief Executive Officer at the Aroostook Savings and Loan Association said that supporting the hospital during this critical time was a high priority.
“We wanted to do something positive during this crisis”, said Swanberg. “We felt that by donating these funds to Cary Medical Center for a second PCR machine it would increase the number of tests they could do, increasing capacity and this would be helpful to the hospital and community”.
The hospital has now trained multiple staff in the laboratory to operate the PCR machine and is able to run testing 24 hours per day seven days per week.
10/9/20 at 5pm:
CARY MEDICAL CENTER ADDS NEW CLEANING TECHNOLOGY
Equipment Provides Advanced Disinfecting Capability
Cary Medical Center has added new technology that provides advanced disinfecting capability and creates a safer environment for patients during the COVID Pandemic. Victory Sprayers with Electrostatic Technology, distributed by P& E Distributors of Van Buren, offers a highly effective disinfection method. Tracie Papsadora, Director of Customer Service and Hospitality at Cary said that the recent purchase will supplement the efforts of housekeeping staff.
“We are using up-to-date technology to ensure that we are disinfecting as thoroughly and frequently as possible,” said Papsadora who took on her management role earlier this year. “Electrostatic disinfecting allows us to implement some of the best disinfecting processes to reassure patients and families that we are doing everything in our ability to provide a clean and safe environment.”
Housekeeping staff at Cary have been oriented to the new technology which allows a cleaning solution to be applied through a uniquely designed sprayer wrapping the solution around hard to reach areas like hand rails, and grab bars, to ensure complete disinfection.
Since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, the hospital has redoubled its efforts to create a safe, clean environment. All hospital staff, patients and visitors are screened upon entering the hospital and staff is required to wear masks throughout their shifts, maintain social distancing whenever possible and wash their hands frequently. Regen Gallagher, D.O., Chief Medical Officer at Cary stated that with the potential for another wave of the virus combined with the risk of flu, the hospital is reinforcing guidelines and continuing to remind hospital staff and the public to remain vigilant.
“Having this advanced cleaning technology is a real benefit to our disinfecting efforts,” she said. “However holding back this virus is literally in our own hands. Frequent hand washing, wearing masks and social distancing provide our best protection.”
Cary Medical Center continues to update its website with the latest in COVID-19 testing, visitation policies and other information. Visit carymedicalcenter.org for additional information.
10/8/20 at 2:30PM:
Cary Medical Center recently admitted our first COVID-19 positive patient. We have spent months preparing for this inevitability and today, we are confident that our healthcare team is equipped to provide the exceptional care that people have come to expect when they walk through our doors. With this recent development, we have made changes to our Cary Medical Center visitation policy to ensure the continued safety of our patients, staff and visitors.
If you are experiencing any of the known symptoms of COVID-19, such as fever, chills cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, diarrhea, vomiting, nausea,, sudden loss of sense of taste and smell, headache, nasal congestion, runny nose, fatigue or muscle aches please contact your primary care provider to discuss options. If you are a community member concerned about a possible exposure, please contact Pines Health Services at (207) 498-2356 or visit https://get-tested-covid19.org for a testing site near you.
As always, we thank you for doing your part in helping to minimize the spread of COVID-19 within our communities. We encourage everyone to continue practicing proper hand hygiene, wearing masks in public settings or when with people from outside your household, and maintaining more than six feet of distance from people outside of your household.
7/27/20 at 12 noon:
TeleHealth for Seniors, a national student non-profit organization, has donated special video-chat-capable devices to Cary Medical Center. From left are Traci Papsadora, customer service and hospitality manager at Cary; Jay Philbrick, Maine leader and advocacy director for TeleHealth for Seniors; and Leslie Anderson, chief operating officer at Cary.
TeleHealth Access for Seniors, an entirely student-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, has donated video-chat-capable devices to Cary Medical Center to benefit seniors, veterans and low-income populations in the area.
TeleHealth Access for Seniors is a national program now in 26 states. The organization has donated more than 1,000 devices and raised $41,000.
Jay Philbrick, a recent graduate of the Maine School of Science and Mathematics in Limestone, serves as both the leader of the Maine branch of TeleHealth for Seniors as well as the organization’s advocacy director, urging government officials to support legislation that promotes and better funds telehealth as part of the nation’s healthcare system.
“We provide these devices free of charge,” Philbrick said. He explained the benefits of the devices.
“We provide them to VA hospitals and primary care providers so that they can provide telehealth services to Veterans and seniors who would otherwise be unable to access them. This allows these vulnerable individuals to attend doctor’s appointments from their homes without fear of contracting COVID-19, and to combat the epidemic of loneliness in our country,” Philbrick said.
According to Philbrick, the organization also provides free technical support and user guides to seniors so that they can better take advantage of the technology.
“Here in Maine, we have collected more than 15 devices and over $200, and we have used our funds to purchase tablets for Cary to enable telehealth services for their elderly patients,” said Philbrick, who delivered the devices to the hospital.
The COVID-19 pandemic has generated a major increase in the use of telehealth and telemedicine. David Silsbee, chief information officer at Cary, said that the hospital was delighted to receive the donation from the student organization.
“We have been increasing the use of telehealth since the pandemic began,” said Silsbee.
“We recognize that the cost of these devices may not be within reach of seniors or other low income individuals. These students have really created a very special program and we intend to utilize the devices they have provided to benefit the patients we serve,” Silsbee said.
In addition to the telehealth benefit of the donated devices, Silsbee said they may also be used to assist patients in connecting with family members while in the hospital.
“Due to the COVID 19 crisis we have had to dramatically restrict our visitation policies,” said Silsbee, who has served at Cary for over 40 years. “We will make some of these devices available to our older adult patients so that they can do ‘Face-Time’ and connect with loved ones using technology.”
Working with Philbrick in Maine are Emma Raven of North Yarmouth, Clare Boone of Belfast, Sarah Kuptchik of Madawaska and Will Whitman of Swan’s Island.
7/6/20 at 6PM:
(Click Image to view full video segment/story)
6/30/20 at 4:30PM:
COVID-19 continues to evolve here in Maine and at the forefront of the response, Maine’s Director of the CDC Dr. Nirav Shah, has become a household name and face for Maine’s communities. Join AARP Maine for a conversation with Director Shah on the impacts COVID-19 is having on older Mainers, their families, and what you need to know to stay healthy and safe this summer. We’ll also discuss how Maine communities can support their older residents during this uncertain time.
Webinar with Dr. Shah on July 09 at 3:30PM.
To register: https://bit.ly/DrShahLive
6/9/20 at 1PM:
Cary Medical Center (CMC) is the first hospital in Aroostook County to have in-house testing for COVID-19. The first few tests were sent to the Maine CDC to validate the results, and CMC has since been approved to run in-house testing.
“The Maine CDC has done an excellent job with getting test results back to us quickly, but the reality is that we are in Aroostook County and they are in Augusta, and this will drastically decrease the turn-around time for results,” said Regen Gallagher, D.O., Chief Medical Officer at Cary Medical Center. “In-house testing will now allow us to get results back in about four to six hours versus 24 to 48 hours.”
This quicker turn-around time can be critical when it comes to alerting people who may have been in contact with a patient who tests positive. It can help ensure that they also get tested and quarantine to prevent further spread.
The PCR testing that CMC is performing is the same that is used by the Maine CDC and other independent labs. Since starting in-house testing, CMC has run more than 50 tests.
“Currently, we are only testing patients who are admitted to the hospital or are being transferred to another facility and need to be tested prior to being admitted at the new location,” said Karen Stackhouse, R.N., Primary Charge of the Cary lab. “We are also supporting other area hospitals by testing for them as well.”
The Maine CDC has announced that they are looking to lift some restrictions on who can be tested, which will allow providers to request testing for any patient that they feel need to be tested.
“We are working to build up our supply of cartridges and other testing materials, so that we can provide testing to more patients as the restrictions are lifted,” said Stackhouse.
Cary Medical Center posts updates on COVID-19 and daily testing results on their website at www.carymedicalcenter.org.
6/1/20 at 12noon: 5/19/20 at 6PM:
(click to watch full video segment)
5/12/20 at 11AM:
Another message from our four county hospital CEOs on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (click the photo to link to the video)
5/8/20 at 3PM:
As part of her “Stay Safer at Home Order” which began last Friday, May 1, Governor Janet Mills requires Maine people to wear cloth face coverings in public places where physical distancing is difficult to maintain, as recommended by the U.S. CDC. Those public settings include indoor spaces such as grocery stores, retail stores, pharmacies and health care facilities; outdoor spaces such as playgrounds, busy parking lots, and other areas such as lines for take-out service; and public transportation. Cloth face coverings are not required for children under age 2, a child in a child care setting, or for anyone who has trouble breathing or related medical conditions, or who is otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
Ultimately, this is about protecting our communities. By wearing a cloth face covering, you are taking an important step in protecting others, and when others wear them, they are taking an important step in protecting you.
Our friends in public health recently shared this image providing some great masking etiquette dos and don’ts.
4/28/20 at 6PM:
(Click image to watch full WAGM segment)
4/24/20 at 2PM:
Yesterday, the CEOs from all four Aroostook County hospitals sat down with WAGM-TV to discuss COVID-19 efforts here in the county. The first 4 parts can be viewed through the following links.
Part 1: WATCH Part 1 HERE
Part 2: WATCH Part 2 HERE
Part 3: WATCH Part 3 HERE
Part 4: WATCH Part 4 HERE
Part 5: WATCH Part 5 HERE
4/23/20 at 12noon:
COVID-19 text updates are available through 211 Maine. Text MECOVID to 898-211 to subscribe.
4/22/20 at 6PM:
(click image to watch full video clip on wagmtv.com)
4/21/20 at 3pm:
“FrontLine WarmLine” Launches to Help Maine’s Health Care Workers and First Responders Manage Emotional Toll of COVID-19
Phone help service supported by Mills Administration and behavioral health partners is staffed by volunteer professionals
AUGUSTA– A new volunteer phone support service, the FrontLine WarmLine, launched today to help Maine health care workers and first responders manage the stress of serving on the front lines of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The FrontLine Warmline serves health care professionals, such as physicians, nurses and counselors, as well as emergency medical services personnel, law enforcement, and others who are directly responding to the pandemic in Maine. The line is staffed by volunteer professionals activated through Maine Responds, including licensed psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, social workers, and nurse practitioners, who can help callers to deal with anxiety, irritability stress, poor sleep, grief or worry and, if needed, connect them with additional supports.
The FrontLine WarmLine is available to clinicians and first responders from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week by calling (207) 221-8196 or 866-367-4440. Text capability will be added soon.
The FrontLine WarmLine is a joint effort of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Maine Department of Public Safety’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians, The Opportunity Alliance, Maine Psychological Association, and the Maine Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.
“Maine’s health care professionals and first responders have worked tirelessly to protect Maine people in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “We recognize that this work takes an emotional toll so we’re proud to support the FrontLine WarmLine as a resource offered by behavioral health peers who know how to help.”
“Maine’s first responders and health care providers put themselves under great stress responding to this pandemic,” said Jessica Pollard, director of the DHHS Office of Behavioral Health. “It’s important for these dedicated professionals to know we’re here for them and are ready to support them in managing the completely expected reactions they may have. We thank all of the volunteer professionals who are pitching in to help.”
“As always, Maine’s first responders and EMS clinicians are dedicated to continuing to provide high-quality services and care to the people they serve, but it is equally imperative that we serve them with resources like the FrontLine WarmLine to help manage the stress, anxiety, and worries associated with responding to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Maine EMS Director Sam Hurley. “Maine EMS is wholly supportive of the FrontLine WarmLine and encourages all first responders and EMS clinicians to reach out for a helping hand.”
“It’s been inspiring to see Maine’s mental health community stepping up to support Maine’s front line in this pandemic,” said Ed Pontius of the Maine Association of Psychiatric Physicians. “All the clinicians and others caring for patients — Maine’s first responders and law enforcement — are doing an important job for all of us. We know how tough this work can be on them. We are glad to be able to support them and their crucial work, and we join all of Maine in appreciation of their courage and heroic efforts for all of us.”
The FrontLine WarmLine will be available until further notice. For those who are not health care workers or first responders but are experiencing emotional distress, several other 24/7 resources are available:
Statewide Crisis Line: 888-568-1112
Intentional Peer Support Warmline to speak with staff who have lived experience with mental health conditions: 866-771-9276
Suicide Hotline: 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255)
211 and 211maine.org can provide general COVID-19 information, including how to access behavioral health and social service resources
Maine DHHS Office of Behavioral Health resources guide
4/16/20 at 2PM:
Thank you to Chunzeng Wang, University of Maine at Presque Isle professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, and UMPI’s GIS Lab for these great graphics outlining our current COVID-19 situation here in Maine.
4/14/20 at 6PM:
(click image to view full clip at wagmtv.com)
4/6/20 at 9AM:
If you or someone else you know is skilled in sewing, we are actively seeking homemade mask donations. Tie-on masks are preferred as the ones made with elastics have been challenging to fit and stay on everyone, but we will gladly accept any and all masks as we try to conserve our limited PPE by using homemade masks for source control purposes.
We now have two Cary-specific drop off locations set up in Caribou for homemade masks.
Our two drop off locations in Caribou for bagged mask donations are:
1. Cary Medical Center: Outside the main entrance there is a tote marked for donations.
2. Lancaster-Morgan Funeral Home at 11 Clover Street: If you drive around back, you will see a tote labeled for drop-offs.
We really appreciate all that our amazing community sewers have already done. Thank you in advance for your help in getting this word out to those who can help.
3/20 at 12 noon:
4/2/20 at 5PM:
Cary Medical Center’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Regen Gallagher, recently sat down with WAGM-TV to discuss concerns about preexisting conditions and risk for COVID-19.
(Click image to watch the full video segment)
4/1/20 at 12 noon:
If you are coming to Cary Medical Center for necessary outpatient services (ex: lab or radiology) that cannot be safely delayed according to your doctor, please come by yourself unless you are physically disabled and need a second person to accompany you to help with your mobility. It is very important to limit the total number of individuals here at the hospital at any given time. Additionally, please remember that unless they are a patient, children under the age of 12 are not allowed in the hospital at this time and may not be a visitor or accompany you to testing appointments. Thank you for understanding!
3/28/20 at 9AM:
Our friend and community partner, ACAP – Aroostook County Action Program, Inc. created an amazing website resource to help coordinate and compile resources for Aroostook County residents and keep us all up to date with the latest COVID-19 information from around Aroostook County! This website is open to the public and is a wonderful resource to make sure our county residents are taken care of during this crisis. If you or someone you know is in need of supplies or some other sort of assistance due to COVID-19, there is also a section for help requests. Businesses, schools, healthcare agencies, and individuals can (and should) register and add your information to help everyone can stay informed! There is even a section on the site for positive stories and acts of kindness which we all know is what makes Aroostook County so AWESOME!!
Check it out and register today at AroostookCommunity.com!3/27/20 at 3PM:
The Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife and the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry know that during these stressful times, everyone wants to get outside and recharge. One challenge we all face right now is how to enjoy the outdoors responsibly during this civil state of emergency.
Here are a few reminders from these important agencies on how to get some fresh air while being smart, staying safe, and sticking close to home.
(Click the logo images to be taken to the article.)
3/26/20 at 3PM:
Practicing hand hygiene is a simple yet effective way to prevent infections. Cleaning your hands can prevent the spread of germs, including those that are resistant to antibiotics and are becoming difficult, if not impossible, to treat.
Wet, lather, scrub, rinse & dry!
Click to watch our new Hand Hygiene PSA!
3/25/20 at 6PM:
Beginning tomorrow, March 26, 2020, we will be screening all patients and visitors on entry to Cary Medical Center. This means you will be limited to one entrance, the Emergency Room entrance, unless you are a Rehabilitation Services (PT or OT) patient going to the Rehab building behind the hospital or you are a One Day Surgery Patient. Patients in those two groups can present to the Rehabilitation Services or One Day Surgery entrance as usual, but should expect to be screened upon entry at those locations as well. All other patients and visitors must enter through the ER entrance.
Our visitor policy from March 16, 2020
remains in effect, however, patients who are Persons Under Investigation (PUI’s) for COVID-19 may not have any visitors while in our facility. Exceptions to the PUI visitation policy may be made for one parent of a minor child or in the case of end-of-life care.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation during this time as we work to keep our patients, staff, and community safe.
3/24/20 at 12 noon:
This is a difficult time, not only for our country, but for the people living in our local communities. It’s important to remember that although we are “social distancing”, it is vital that we find different ways – by phone or online – to stay connected as much as we can.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
If you are struggling or feel hopeless, please reach out to someone and share your burden. Feeling connected can truly make a big difference in your emotional health and wellness. The Maine Crisis Hotline is also just a phone call away and available to help those who may need emotional support or resources through this time.
3/23/20 at 2PM:
We have received several offers from people in Aroostook communities willing to sew homemade masks for staff as we experience shortages caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of today, we at Cary are able to accept these donations of homemade masks in response to the Center for Disease Control’s guidance that fabric masks are a crisis response option when other supplies have been exhausted.
IMPORTANT INFECTION PREVENTION:
Before starting this project, please ask yourself the following questions:
1.Have you been in contact with anyone suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
2.Do you have fever, cough or shortness of breath?
If you are able to answer “NO” to both questions, then proceed with making masks.
If you answer “YES” to either or both questions, please do not make masks. If you are experiencing cough, fever, or shortness of breath and have a concern that you may have COVID-19 please call your primary care provider for a risk assessment.
- 100% UNUSED cotton fabric (front) – no metallic fabrics
- 100% cotton or cotton flannel (back)
- 1/4″ or 3/8” flat elastic
Mask sewing instructions can be found at: https://www.deaconess.com/How-to-make-a-Face-Mask/Documents-Mask/Mask-Information
Please do not deliver masks directly to the hospital. We will work on coordinating with the Facebook group Aroostook County Emergency Mask Sewers to identify a way to get completed masks to the Cary and Pines staff who need them.
Our many thanks to everyone who is willing and eager to help with this effort! It has been amazing to see Aroostook County’s response to this public health threat and the many people who have stepped up to help in so many different ways. The kindness and support for one another we’ve witnessed as we navigate this unprecedented time together has been nothing short of awe-inspiring. Be well and keep being #AroostookAwesome!
3/22/20 at 8PM:
3/22/20 at 12noon:
For the latest information regarding COVID-19 in Maine – including current case counts and locations – please visit the Maine CDC website at www.maine.gov/dhhs/coronavirus.
Questions? Contact 211 Maine by dialing 211 (or 1-866-811-5695), texting your ZIP code to 898-211, or emailing email@example.com.
3/21/20 at 2PM:
As an individual, you can help in reducing the spread of COVID-19 by reducing your rate of contact with other people. Avoiding public spaces and unnecessary social gatherings will lower the chance that you will be exposed to COVID-19 as well as the flu which is currently circulating in Aroostook County.
Other measures you can take include:
~Working from home if possible.
~Organizing meetings via video calls rather than doing them in person.
~Avoiding being out and about if it isn’t absolutely necessary.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and other people in a public setting. It is also recommended that you avoid physical contact with others in social situations, including handshakes, hugs and kisses.
For more tips and guidelines on COVID-19 and social distancing, please visit: cdc.gov or coronavirus.gov
3/20/20 at 3:15PM:
New COVID-19 testing guidelines have been established by the CDC to help keep our healthcare staff safe and preserve essential supplies, such as swabs and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). This equipment is necessary for us to serve our communities while this public health emergency continues to develop over the course of the next several weeks. Let’s continue to be kind and patient – looking out for one another – as we navigate this evolving situation together.
ADDITIONAL COVID-19 INFORMATION:
• Most people with mild symptoms and those who have been exposed but do not have symptoms will not be tested in accordance with National and Maine CDC guidelines.
• If you are not tested, your primary care provider can advise on how to best manage your symptoms at home and prevent spreading the virus to others.
• The Emergency Department should only be utilized in case of a life-threatening emergency, such as difficulty breathing. If you or someone you know is experiencing an emergency, please dial 911.
For the most accurate and up-to-date information on this rapidly-changing situation, please visit coronavirus.gov or cdc.gov
319/20 at 5PM:
With social distancing measures underway throughout the United States, a Facebook group has been created to help Aroostook County people work together to meet needs and get information out to our communities as we adjust to the many changes. Whether you need support or want to help others during this rapidly-changing public health emergency, please join the group Covid 19 Aroostook!
3/18/20 at 6PM:
Local Hospitals Take Precautions for Coronavirus by WAGM-TV
3/18/20 at 1PM:
A message from your four Aroostook County Hospitals – Cary Medical Center, Houlton Regional Hospital, Northern Light A.R. Gould Hospital, and Northern Maine Medical Center:
With COVID-19 now in Maine, your four county hospitals want you to know that we are working collaboratively to keep our communities healthy and safe. We are in daily communication, assessing our combined resources and focusing on the needs of our patients, families and employees.
Please follow CDC guidelines on social distancing, practice proper hand hygiene and always call ahead if you have a cough, fever, sore throat or shortness of breath before going to any healthcare facility.
Above all, be kind and look after each other and we will get through this together.
3/17/20 at 12 noon:
The Cary Gift Shop, which is operated primarily by our volunteers, will be closed until further notice in response to concerns surrounding COVID-19. We apologize for any inconvenience.
3/16/20 at 5PM EST:
3/16/20 at 11AM EST:
Press conference with the Maine CDC: (click image to view)
3/16/20 at 9AM EST:
3/15/20 at 7:00PM EST:
Press conference with Maine’s Governor Janet Mills and the Maine CDC: (click image to view)
3/13/20 at 5:00PM EST:
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 Bangor Daily News has made free for the public.
CARIBOU, Maine — With two Maine residents testing positive for coronavirus as of Friday morning, facilities in Caribou are taking precautions to ensure the safety of patients, employees and visitors.
Cary Medical Center has asked that any patients exhibiting respiratory or flu-like symptoms call the hospital at 207-498-3111 before visiting to ensure that both the coronavirus and flu do not spread.
Dr. Regen Gallagher, Chief Medical Officer at Cary Medical Center, said the hospital has been doing prep work in relation to COVID-19 since January, and that these efforts have significantly ramped up in the past couple of weeks.
The hospital is taking a phased response in terms of restricting visitors. Guests are not completely banned, but signage at the facility asks sick visitors to stay home.
“It’s better not to visit patients if you’re already sick,” said Dr. Gallagher. “We have signs at the hospital but we’re not locked down at the moment.”
Cary is collaborating with Pines Health Services to develop a location for County residents to receive a screening in the near future. Gallagher said the screenings would free up resources in the emergency room, and added that Cary and Pines are not prepared to release additional details regarding the location of these screenings yet.
So far, she said the hospital has not seen a large number of patients coming in and requesting a screening, and that while some have been under investigation, none have tested positive for the virus as of Friday afternoon.
Those concerned about catching the virus are being asked to wash their hands, avoid going out when sick, and not attending large gatherings.
“It really boils down to social distancing at this point,” said Gallagher. “You should only be wearing a mask if you have a cough or a cold. If you’re coughing and you need to go out, then a mask is incredibly helpful as you move about in the community, but really you should just stay home if you can.”
On social media, the hospital also advised that, since there are many vulnerable residents on a fixed-income in Aroostook County, local residents avoid stockpiling basic goods and supplies to ensure that those in need do not go without necessities.
The Caribou Rehab and Nursing Center also completely restricted any visitors on Thursday afternoon until further notice, administrator Phil Cyr said.
“We’ve restricted our employees to enter only through one doorway, where they are screened for possible coronavirus symptoms as well as travel history and things of that nature,” he said. “We’re making sure to screen all of our employees carefully before they come into work.”
The nursing home has also instructed any deliveries to be dropped off at the front door, where staff can retrieve them outside, preventing any unscreened individuals from entering.
“Visitations are 100 percent restricted,” said Cyr. “If we have someone in an end of life situation then obviously we will make allowances for the family to be with someone who has just a few days left to live.”
The Maine Veterans’ Home in Caribou has also placed a ban on visitors except during end-of-life situations, along with all other veteran facilities under the VA within the state.
3/13/20 at 12:30PM EST:
Press Release From Aroostook County EMA
Contact: Darren R. Woods, Director
Aroostook County Emergency Management
Aroostook County Response to COVID-19
The Aroostook County EMA wants to assure the public that efforts to plan for and respond to the current public health event (COVID-19) have been going on for quite some time. Our healthcare officials have been working with Emergency Management staff for years planning for various pandemic emergencies. Those partners have been updating plans over the last 6 months.
This is an ever-evolving situation, but the communication and coordination between these critical agencies has been ongoing.
It is important for people to remember that while it is a good idea to stay informed and prepare at home and in the workplace, there is no need to panic. Healthcare officials are the lead agencies in this type of event, and we will continue to take our direction from them while sharing their important information.
County EMA Director Darren Woods stated, “We should definitely heed the warnings of our medical personnel. That said, we should remember to be kind and think of others. As a society starts to get panicked, their decision-making skills also change. Let’s not let ourselves forget who we are and how we take care of one another.”
Agencies are in daily conference calls with one another sharing critical information. We choose to fight this with Facts not Fear.
Specific information can be found at the Maine CDC website.
We are also working to distribute local information via our website at www.aroostookema.com and our Aroostook County EMA Facebook Page.
3/12/20 at 2:00 PM EST:
Governor Mills announced today that Maine has its first presumed positive case of COVID-19, caused by a novel (new) coronavirus. As the CDC continues to prepare for the potential spread of this respiratory illness, Cary Medical Center is working collaboratively with the CDC and multiple public health entities to take all necessary and recommended precautions to inhibit the spread of the virus in the event that cases develop locally and to protect our employees, volunteers, visitors and the people that we serve.
We are asking that patients exhibiting respiratory or flu-like symptoms please call ahead before arriving at any of our Cary or Pines Health Services healthcare facilities to ensure that we minimize the spread of both the flu which is currently circulating throughout Aroostook County and COVID-19.
The people most at risk for COVID-19 are the elderly and those with underlying or immune-compromising conditions. Aroostook is home to many in this vulnerable population who are on a fixed income and unable to stockpile basic goods and supplies. Please do your part in only buying what you need for yourself and your family so that those who aren’t financially able to buy in bulk still have access to necessary supplies.
Finally, we remind everyone to practice good hand hygiene, cover coughs and sneezes, and stay home if you are sick as we navigate this rapidly-changing situation. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please visit the CDC’s website at: www.cdc.gov/coronavirus.
3/11/20 at 5:00 PM EST:
We know that people are concerned about the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). It is important that you look to reliable sources and that you have the latest information. The links below are some of the best organizations you can turn to. We encourage you to visit these sites. As always, we are here for you and we are prepared to address any issues that arise in regard to this new and evolving issue. Please be in touch with our Community Relations Office here at Cary if you have any concerns or questions.