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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Just a friendly reminder: Booster shots will NOT be offered at our Walk-In clinic in East Millinocket, only at our open clinics for now. We have closed the reservation system at www.mrhme.org/getvax until November 11 in order to limit any confusion. Thanks for your patience.


From the desk of Robert Peterson, D.Sc., FACHE
Chief Executive Officer


November 8, 2021

Good Afternoon Everyone.

Not too much to report on the numbers, unfortunately.  The current Covid spike continues and the numbers are essentially flat – no real improvement.  Locally we seem to be doing a little better, and the statewide test positivity rate is slightly improved.  On the downside, deaths are edging up as are hospitalizations.

I had the opportunity to be in a few public places last week (a couple of stores and one restaurant).  With isolated exceptions, I was the only person in these (indoor) establishments with a mask on.  Obviously, I couldn’t tell who was (or was not) vaccinated.  Given the location of these businesses and the high rate of community transmission, I could only speculate that some (many?) of those I came in contact with were unvaccinated.  If you are wondering why the current Covid spike continues to plague us and won’t subside, I would offer my observations at these businesses as a plausible explanation.

People are not taking Covid as seriously as they should.  The vaccinated feel invincible and the unvaccinated are often times anti-mask as well.  The result is that here at MRH, and other hospitals across Maine, we are faced with caring for critically ill Covid patients for a sickness that in all likelihood was completely avoidable.

My message is simple – use all protections at your disposal until the transmission rate zeroes.  That includes; vaccination, boosters, masking, handwashing, and social distancing.  All of these tactics used together will protect you the best.  Golfers don’t play golf with one club.  Carpenters don’t build houses with only a hammer.  Use all the tools available to you to keep safe and avoid this debilitating virus.

Here are today’s data for your review:

 

Robert Peterson, D. Sc., FACHE
Chief Executive Officer

 

*Please note: We’re now providing weekly updates.  Should there be any breaking news or trends, we will get that information out to you right away.  

The local information reflected here is representative of data collected by Millinocket Regional Hospital.  We do not have access to testing results and data from other local healthcare organizations, therefore, we can only report on local data as it pertains to our organization.

 

 

For more information, visit the Maine CDC website.

We've pulled together some of our most commonly asked questions (and answers) regarding the Moderna booster.  We hope that it will address some of your concerns and aid you in your decision-making process.

Have questions but don't see an answer here, email us at askCOVID@mrhme.org


What is a booster?

A booster shot is an extra dose of vaccine that strengthens and prolongs your immunity to a particular disease.  

Who is eligible for a COVID booster shot?

You are eligible for a Moderna booster shot if you meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • 65 years and older
  • Age 18+ who live in long-term care settings
  • Age 18+ who have underlying medical conditions
  • Age 18+ who work or live in high-risk settings
  • Age 18+ who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at least two months ago
 

Why might I need a booster?

A booster shot is recommended due to concern that the effectiveness of the vaccine decreases over time and may not protect against a new strain, such as Delta. A booster may be given to older people or those with chronic medical conditions or other risk factors.  

Is it safe for me to get a booster shot from a different vaccine brand?

The FDA and CDC recently supported a “mix-and-match” approach that allows people to choose a different vaccine for their booster than the one they started with.
 

I got Johnson & Johnson's vaccine.  What does this mean for me?

Any adult who got a Johnson & Johnson vaccine may get a booster from Pfizer, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson as long as it has been at least two months since their single-dose shot.  Here at MRH, we encourage those who got the J&J to get the Moderna booster. The science is very, very clear that it gives you more antibody response than getting another J&J: which we will NOT be offering.  

Will you be offering booster shots at MRH Walk-In Care?

No.  Booster shots will not be given at Walk-In Care.  Please plan to visit us at one of our open clinics in Millinocket or Patten to get your booster.  No appointments needed!  

Which boosters will you be offering?

At this time, MRH is only planning to offer Moderna boosters, which are both safe and effective when paired with Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson or Moderna vaccines.    

We've pulled together some of our most commonly asked questions (and answers) regarding the Pfizer vaccine for kids.  We hope that it will address some of your concerns and aid you in your decision-making process.

Have questions but don’t see an answer here, email us at askCOVID@mrhme.org


What's up with the Pfizer vaccine for kids ages 5-11?

With all of the talk and anticipation around the pending approval for the Pfizer COVID vaccine for children 5-11, we wanted to answer some common questions we have received.  

"Is this vaccine going to make my kids infertile?"

Fertility is a major concern for parents and the COVID-19 vaccine. There is no biological reason why we would expect the mRNA vaccine to impact fertility. mRNA degrades within 72 hours and the fat bubbles that carry the mRNA degrades within 4 days. The vaccine doesn’t linger in our body for decades; it just gives the instructions and then leaves. We have more than 12 months of clinical trial data for the adult COVID-19 vaccine. Many women have gotten pregnant after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. Millions of adolescents have also been vaccinated. Assessing the vaccines’ impact on mensural cycles is also being reviewed; an immunological response (like a fever or body aches) to the vaccine. But there is no indication this impacts fertility or safety.  

"Will vaccinating 5-11 year olds actually help 'end the pandemic'?"

Yes. It will help with pediatric hospitalization rates. It will help with reducing transmission, and thus it will help with adult hospitalization rates too.  Cases in children have dramatically risen as the Delta variant swept through the country.  

"Are that many kids really getting COVID?"

In the most recent week of available data, Sept. 17-23, there were almost 207,000 new cases of COVID-19 in children, which represented 26.7% of all cases reported. Since the end of August, the United States has added more than 1.13 million new cases in children, or just under 20% of all cases during the entire pandemic. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, nearly 6 million American children have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic.  

"But kids aren't dying of COVID, so what the point in getting them vaccinated in the first place?"

At least 297 children have died of COVID-19, about 0.06% of all deaths. At least 14,849 children have been hospitalized, about 2% of all hospitalizations. The vaccine greatly lessens the incidence of transmission, serious disease, hospitalizations, and death in all ages.  

"What about side effects?  What can my kid expect?"

The kid dosage also proved safe, with similar or fewer temporary side effects — such as sore arms, fever or achiness — that teens experience. I trust that any vaccine hesitancy on the part of parents will be lessened through appreciation of how carefully and independently the FDA, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and finally the CDC evaluate its safety, and that parents will also understand the importance of protecting their child from this potentially deadly infection.  

"Kids this age are smaller than adults, so why are they getting the same dose?"

They are not getting the same dose as adults or even adolescents. In the research data sent to the FDA, the success of the immune response came from a much lower dose; only 1/3 of the dose that was given to the adults and adolescents. The vaccine dosage is not based on weight. It’s based on the maturity of an immune system. After their second dose, children ages 5 to 11 developed coronavirus-fighting antibody levels just as strong as teenagers and young adults getting the regular-strength shots  

"Where is the Moderna shot for kids?"

Clinical trials are underway, but not yet complete for the other COVID-19 vaccines. Moderna, for example, has an ongoing study of 13,000 children ages 6 months to 11 years and is also lowering the vaccine dose for younger children, while J&J has an ongoing trial for 12- to 17-year olds.  

"Who needs to quarantine?"

People who are not fully vaccinated and are determined to be a close contact of someone with COVID-19 need to quarantine. Everyone should also wear a mask in K–12 schools at all times, regardless of vaccination status and the level of community transmission.  

"Can a student or staff member go to school while in quarantine?"

No. Stay home, away from others, do not attend extra-curricular or social activities, or participate in sporting events, play dates, parties, social and family gatherings, music or theater performances, and other events where they may be close to other people.  

"Who does not need to quarantine?"

People who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine if they come into close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 unless they are experiencing symptoms.

 

"If I'm vaccinated and exposed, what do I do?"

Get tested 5-7 days after their last known exposure—even if they don’t have symptoms. Wear a mask indoors in public for 14 days or until their test result is negative. Monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 for 14 days and get tested and isolate immediately if they develop symptoms.    

Frequently Asked Questions

When can I get vaccinated?

All people age 12+ are now eligible for vaccination.  The Pfizer vaccine is approved for ages 12+.  The Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccine are approved for ages 18+.

For more information on the Maine vaccine rollout, please visit: https://www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines

 

How do I get vaccinated?

Johnson & Johnson:  The J&J vaccine is a single dose vaccine.  MRH is no longer carrying this vaccine due to our inability to obtain it.

Moderna:  This is a two dose mRNA vaccine, with shots spaced four weeks apart.  Patients who wish to get the Moderna vaccine can book an appointment online at:  www.mrhme.org/getvax.

Pfizer:  Pfizer is also a two dose mRNA vaccine with shots spaced three weeks apart.  This is currently the only vaccine approved for ages 12-17.  MRH has offered special Pfizer clinics but are not able to carry it consistently due to its storage requirements.

 

What should I do if I feel ill or suspect I have been exposed to COVID-19?

If you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID or have symptoms, you should quarantine immediately and get tested at MRH Walk-In Care within 3-5 days after exposure.  Continue your quarantine while awaiting results.

Do not present to the emergency room or doctor’s office unless experiencing severe symptoms such as: trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion, inability to wake or stay awake or bluish lips or face.

 

How long does it take for symptoms to present?

It can take anywhere for 2-14 days for symptoms to appear after exposure.

 

Am I contagious even if I don’t have symptoms?

It is possible to be infected with COVID-19 and spread it to others without experiencing symptoms yourself.

Research has shown that high levels of the virus are present in respiratory secretions during the “presymptomatic” period that can last days to more than a week prior to the fever and cough characteristic of COVID-19.

This ability of the virus to be transmitted by people without symptoms is a major reason for the pandemic spread.

If you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should self-quarantine for the entire 14-day incubation period. Even if you feel fine, you’re still at risk of spreading the coronavirus to others.  Persons who are fully vaccinated and show no symptoms, or have had COVID-19 in the last 3 months and do not develop new symptoms, do not have to quarantine even if exposed.  All others should follow quarantine as directed.

 

What should I do if someone in my home, or someone I have close contact with, has COVID-19?

If you have had close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should:

    • Stay home for 14 days after your last contact with a person who has COVID-19.
    • Watch for fever (100.4◦F), cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19
    • If possible, stay away from others, especially people who are at higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19

 

What counts as close contact?

    • You were within 6 feet of someone who has COVID-19 for a total of 15 minutes or more
    • You provided care at home to someone who is sick with COVID-19
    • You had direct physical contact with the person (hugged or kissed them)
    • You shared eating or drinking utensils
    • They sneezed, coughed, or somehow got respiratory droplets on you

 

Quarantine exemptions:

    • People who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not have to quarantine or get tested again as long as they do not develop new symptoms.
    • People who have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 are not required to quarantine if they have been fully vaccinated against the disease and show no symptoms.

 

 

What is the difference between quarantine and isolation?

According to the US Department of Health & Human Services, isolation and quarantine are public health practices used to protect the public by preventing exposure to people who have or may have a contagious disease.

      • Isolation separates sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
      • Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms.

 

When can I discontinue isolation?

You can discontinue isolation once you meet the following criteria:

    • It’s been at least 10 days since symptoms first appeared and
    • At least 24 hours with no fever without the use of fever-reducing medication and
    • Other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving.

**Loss of taste and smell may persist for weeks or months after recovery and should not delay the end of isolation.

If you tested positive for COVID-19 but had no symptoms, you can discontinue isolation after 10 days have passed since you received your positive test.

For those who experienced severe illness or are immunocompromised, your primary care provider may recommend a longer isolation period.

 

Should I get tested to confirm that I no longer have COVID-19?

Even after you have recovered from your symptoms, you may continue to test positive for three months or more without being contagious to others.  For this reason, you should be tested only if you develop new symptoms of possible COVID-19.  You should discuss the need for testing with your primary care provider; especially if you have been in close contact with another person who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days.

 

Downloadable Resources:

Cloth face mask FAQ + instructions

Home Care Instructions for COVID-19

 

Sources:  Centers for Disease Control, US Department of Health & Human Services

Testing

Viral tests, also referred to as diagnostic or PCR tests, analyze samples from your respiratory system to tell you if you are currently infected with COVID-19.

Keep in mind:  The virus can take a few days to begin replicating in the throat and nose.  Your body needs to produce enough viral load in order to be detected by the PCR testing.  Generally testing is most accurate when administered 3-5 days after exposure.

 

If you currently have symptoms or have been exposed..

Testing takes place at MRH Walk-In Care, 87 Main Street, East Millinocket in a newly renovated space that is equipped with a clean air exchange, separate entrance and exit and other improved patient safety measures to prevent cross-contamination.  Your safety is our priority.

Patients requiring a test are asked to wait in their vehicles and notify staff by calling (207) 447-4700 upon arrival.  Your patience is appreciated as our staff is working diligently to minimize patient exposure to germs.

Do not present to the emergency room or doctor’s office unless experiencing severe symptoms, such as the emergency warning signs such as:

        • Trouble breathing
        • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
        • New confusion
        • Inability to wake or stay awake
        • Bluish lips or face

 

Test results

Tests typically take between 24-48 hours to be processed at the lab.  In the meantime, follow precautions as if you do have the virus and remain quarantined at home away from others.

Your provider will contact you with your test results and guidance on how to care for yourself, precautions to take with others, treatment of symptoms, etc.

 

Testing for past infections

If you think you may have had COVID-19, an antibody test may assist in that determination.  It is designed to to identify antibodies otherwise known as proteins that help fight off infection.

It can take the body 1-3 weeks after the infection to make antibodies.  Antibodies are typically associated with immunity, but experts still do not know if having antibodies to the COVID-19 virus can protect someone from getting infected with the virus again, or how long that protection might last.  At this time, the most practical use for antibody testing is in regard to COVID-19 plasma donations.

Antibody tests should not be used to diagnose someone as being currently sick with COVID-19.

 

Additional information:

Keep Maine Healthy: Travel Information

Guidance for COVID-19 testing coverage for uninsured individuals

Application for COVID-19 testing coverage

State of Maine partners with IDEXX To more than triple testing capacity

Local connection: Puritan Medical of Guilford doubles COVID-19 Swab Production

 

Source: Centers for Disease Control

How to Protect Yourself & Others

First and foremost, know how COVID-19 spreads   

  • There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
  • The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus.
  • The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
    • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
    • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks.
    • These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
    • Some recent studies have suggested that COVID-19 may be spread by people who are not showing symptoms.

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We encourage everyone to take the following precautions; for the protection of yourself as well as others.

   Wash your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • It’s especially important to wash:
    • Before eating or preparing food
    • Before touching your face
    • After using the restroom
    • After leaving a public place
    • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
    • After handling your cloth face covering
    • After changing a diaper
    • After caring for someone sick
    • After touching animals or pets
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

 

   Avoid close contact

  • Inside your home:  Avoid close contact with people who are sick.  If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
  • Outside your home:  Put 6 feet of distance between yourself and other people who don’t live in your household.

 

   Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others

  • You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
  • The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Everyone should wear a cloth face cover in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
    • Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
  • Do NOT use a facemask meant for a healthcare worker.  Currently, surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.

 

   Cover coughs and sneezes

  • Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

 

   Clean and disinfect

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • Then, use a household disinfectant. Most common EPA-registered household disinfectants will work.

 

   Monitor Your Health Daily

  • Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Take your temperature if symptoms develop.
    • Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.
  • Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.

 

 

Symptoms

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 or (coronavirus 2019) is a newly identified coronavirus caused by a virus called SARS-CoV 2.  It was first identified in China in December 2019 and has infected thousands of people around the world.

Coronaviruses are a type of virus that typically affect the respiratory tract of birds and mammals; humans included.  Doctors associate them with the common cold, bronchitis, pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and now, COVID-19.

As we know, COVID-19 is much more severe than other common coronaviruses and can lead to hospitalization or even death.

 

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

COVID-19 affects different people in different ways.  People infected with the virus have reported a wide range of symptoms; from mild to severe illness.

The symptoms of COVID-19 can be difficult to distinguish, as they present symptoms like other coronaviruses similar to the common cold.

Some or all of the following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:

      • Fever or chills
      • Cough
      • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
      • Muscle pain or body aches
      • Headache
      • New loss of taste or smell
      • Sore throat
      • Congestion or runny nose
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Diarrhea

This list does not include all possible symptoms.  The CDC will continue to update this list as more is learned about COVID-19.

 

When to Seek Emergency Medical Attention

Look for emergency warming signs* for COVID-19.  If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:

      • Trouble breathing
      • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
      • New confusion
      • Inability to wake or stay awake
      • Pale, gray or blue-colored skin, lips or nail beds

*This list is not all possible symptoms.  Please call your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning to you.

Call 9-1-1 or call ahead to your local emergency facility:  Notify the operator that you are seeking care for someone who has or may have COVID-19.

 

Asymptomatic COVID-19 Carriers

It is possible to be infected with COVID-19 and spread it to others without experiencing symptoms yourself.

No matter what, if you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should self-quarantine for the entire 14-day incubation period. Even if you feel fine, you’re still at risk of spreading the coronavirus to others.

Research has shown that high levels of the virus are present in respiratory secretions during the “presymptomatic” period that can last days to more than a week prior to the fever and cough characteristic of COVID-19.

This ability of the virus to be transmitted by people without symptoms is a major reason for the pandemic.

 

Sources: Centers for Disease Control,  New England Journal of Medicine

Treatment

There is no specific antiviral treatment recommended for COVID-19 at this time.

Those with COVID-19 should seek out supportive care to help relieve symptoms.  Based upon the individual’s symptoms, this may include:

  • Pain relievers and fever reducing medications (avoid ibuprofen)
  • Allergy medication to reduce congestion
  • Cough drops to soothe sore throat
  • Plenty of rest
  • Plenty of fluids

If you have asthma or another respiratory illness, be sure to have extra inhalers or medication on hand.

 

 

Source: Centers for Disease Control

Latest COVID-19 Statistics

 

 

 

Additional COVID-19 data and statistics can be found here courtesy of the Maine Centers for Disease Control.

We’re closely monitoring this situation and will provide updates as new information becomes available.

Source: Maine Centers for Disease Control

Visitors

Effective October 27, 2021, Millinocket Regional Hospital has expanded its visiting hours.

The Inpatient unit, Med/Surg and SCU has expanded visiting hours to run from 10am to 7pm. It is our hope this extended timeframe will allow family members to be present to ask questions, especially when the physician is in house and present.

Visitation will still be limited to one visitor a day.  Visitors must be screened for COVID-19 symptoms prior to entry, and masking is required.  Any person (including staff) failing the screen will be directed to receive a medical evaluation and possible COVID-19 testing.

 

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Bill Pay

Due to the hospital’s limited visitor policy, we are not accepting in-person payments unless you’re already in the building to obtain medical services.

Other options for bill pay include online or via good, old-fashioned mail.

Pay by credit card

www.mrhme.org/billpay

Pay by check

Mail check to address provided on the statement or to:

Millinocket Regional Hospital
200 Somerset Street
Millinocket, ME 04462

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Questions about your bill?  We’re here to help!

Contact us by phone

Trubridge        (877) 818-1379

MRH               (207) 723-3369
………………. (207) 723-7247

Contact us by email

jwaite@mrhme.org

 

We apologize for the inconvenience and appreciate your cooperation!