By Robbie McKay Lincoln News • April 9, 2020
MILLINOCKET – With the cases of Covid-19 on the rise here in Maine and the first positive test result for the area occurring on April 1, the senior team at Millinocket Regional Hospital are continuing to share information with the people of the Katahdin region. The team shared the results of their Tuesday meeting.
Katie Mackin, Marketing Director for MRH, said late Tuesday afternoon that everyone still needs to be following the guidelines set to combat the corona virus and its spread.
“Penobscot County’s confirmed positive cases jumped from 25 to 31 today and we anticipate they will continue to rise,” Mackin said, “Numbers in our community are currently low, but are on the rise. It’s important that everyone doubles down on social distancing and isolation,” she said.
Bob Peterson, CEO of MRH, explained that with the numbers around the globe remaining fairly consistent, the MRH team has applied that data to the local area to better understand how the virus could impact the local community:
• In a given population with an outbreak, it is estimated that 2 to 2.5% of the population will test positive for COVID-19. So if there is an estimated a population of 7000 in MRH’s service area (Millinocket, East Millinocket, Medway, Woodville, etc.), it could be expected to see 140 to 175 positive patients.
• Most of these patients (80%) will recover at home on self-isolation. 20% may require hospitalization. That means it could be expected that MRH could admit 28 – 35 patients during this outbreak. Not all will arrive at once, which will help MRH manage them in waves (which they are fully prepared for).
• Many are concerned about deaths associated with COVID-19. The rates around the world vary but average 4 to 4.5 % of those patients who test positive (Italy and Spain being higher). If it is expected to have 140 to 175 positive patients in the service, the region could see 6 to 8 deaths out of 7000 residents. Many people will want to be tested, but the CDC is limiting test availability to symptomatic and high risk individuals. The vast majority of those tested in Maine so far are negative (over 95%). Even with the CDC restrictions, it is anticipated that MRH will be testing a lot of people. They have designated an off-site outside area to accommodate a heavy increase in testing. When the testing request volume starts to increase, they will activate this site.
• Telephone triage is active and working well. MRH wants anyone experiencing coronavirus symptoms to call their hotline 447-4190 to determine a proper plan of care. A provider is available through the telephone triage line between the hours of 8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday.Anyone experiencing a dry cough, fever, shortness of breath should call immediately.
• Drive thru testing is in place and available only by referral. It’s convenient, effective and helps to maintain the safety of everyone involved.
Mackin said that while the positive cases of Covid 19 continue to edge up, it appears that the region’s rural make-up, a state shutdown, and social distancing has had an effect. Caution, however, is still advised.
“Unfortunately, the numbers are still going up and we need to be very vigilant on our preparation here at MRH and we all must advocate for continued social distancing behavior to all of our friends, family, and community members,” Peterson said.
“Prior to now, this outbreak was somewhere else; someone else’s misfortune. Today, it is our new reality. Keeping this spread as minimal as possible takes a village,” said Peterson.
“Stay well. Stay safe. We’ll be here to care for you, just as we always are,” he said.
About Millinocket Regional Hospital
Millinocket Regional Hospital (MRH) is a 25 bed Critical Access Hospital nestled at the base of Baxter State Park that provides vital healthcare services to those who live, work and play in the Katahdin Region. Beyond the friendly staff and award-winning patient care, MRH provides an impressive range of specialty and general services; with a recent expansion resulting in the addition of eight new specialties and a Walk-In Care facility. In 2018, MRH was awarded the Press Ganey ‘Guardian of Excellence Award’ for exceptional patient experience; a nationally-recognized symbol of achievement for hospitals who consistently perform within the top 5%. Providing jobs to approximately 250 people, MRH is the largest employer in the Katahdin Region and a crucial economic driver within its community. For more information, please visit www.mrhme.org or www.facebook.com/MillinocketRegionalHospital