Maine hospitals are self-contained as the number of inpatients with COVID-19 has risen to its highest levels since the start of the pandemic, with more critical care beds nationwide than a month before the wave reach their doors.
On Tuesday, the number of inpatients with COVID-19 reached 138, compared with 105 weeks before and 17 on November 1. But despite 46 of these patients in critical care – the industry’s new intensive care unit – the number of staff and available critical care beds has dropped by just nine in the last month, from 108 to 99, although most hospitals continue to perform non-emergency care. operations and procedures that use these resources.
Larger hospitals in the state have done this by increasing the number of critical care beds, taking advantage of newer facilities designed to move rooms from simple medical surgical duties to critical care, including patient care. with COVID-1
Forecast models predict that new daily hospitalizations will increase sharply over the next two weeks. Maine averaged about eight a day, and the COVID-19 Simulator, run by Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Hospital, Georgia Tech and Boston Medical Center, predicts a jump to 19 a day by Dec. 14, up from about 8 at the moment. while the Colombian School of Public Health model Mailman sets the figure at 10.
Eastern Maine Medical Center in Northern Health in Bangor – one of the most severely affected hospitals in recent weeks – is using these “swings” in its latest tower to increase critical care capacity from 62 to 75 to respond to additional demand, said Dr. James Jarvis, a doctor who commanded the Northern Lights incident.
“We have the capacity to bend regularly and many of them are related to the way we designed the floors,” Jarvis said. “Because we are a rural country, we need to be a little more flexible than some of our urban counterparts to serve our communities.”
Jarvis said the Northern Lights network – 10 hospitals, including Mercy in Portland – should not have canceled or postponed any minor procedures due to the wave. “Are we currently in this state of panic? No, he added. “But we are very lucky to have had time to plan and have procedures, so if we need to take more extreme measures to protect the number of hospital beds, we can do it.”
A similar story is at another severely affected hospital, MaineGeneral in Augusta, which on Tuesday had 87 percent critical care capacity, with only two of the 16 beds occupied by patients with COVID-19. The hospital, which opened in 2013, also managed to increase capacity by using swings and did not have to reduce other services.
“Based on our overall current census, we don’t need to implement our growth plan right now,” MaineGeneral spokesman Joy McKenna said in an email. “We recognize that delaying the necessary health care can lead to poorer outcomes for patients.”
“It’s a balancing act, and we’re pulsing our current environment every day and making changes quickly if necessary.”
Maine Medical Center and other MaineHealth hospitals have also avoided reducing the choice of surgical procedures, although tight capacity at Maine Med and Southern Maine Health Care sometimes causes last-minute delays, as sometimes happens before a pandemic. As of last Thursday, Maine Med had 16 confirmed hospitals with COVID-19, up from 8 weeks earlier, although it was not known how many were in critical care.
“What we’re feeling right now in terms of capacity is really from critical care hospitalization,” said Dr. Joan Boomsma, MaineHealth’s chief medical officer. “I would say that we are at a time when the need to recruit elective operations is not far from the horizon. We see a lot of hospital beds occupied by patients infected with COVID, and this expands our capacity and staff. “
“Our health teams are really starting to wear out,” she added. “People are exhausted and at speed things will need everyone’s help to contain this thing.”
The Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston had an average of 9.3 COVID-19 patients each day during the week ending November 27, but reported that it had a capacity for an intensive care unit of 20. “Thanks to the planning and hard work of our team, CMMC is well positioned to care for patients above that number if necessary, ”said hospital president Stephen G. Littleson, who said he has not yet had to delay other types of care.
York Hospital, a much smaller facility that housed six patients with COVID-19 for most of last week, also did not have to delay other care to give way to the wave. “We still have staff and capacity to safely continue care, as usual for our non-COVID patients,” Matthew Bennett, the hospital’s director of quality, said in a statement. “We continue to monitor the situation closely and the hospital in York is currently available – and can safely – continue with all elective procedures.”
Bennett also said that York had set up a COVID-19 care clinic attached to its emergency department in anticipation of a further increase in demand, but had not yet had to put it into operation. “Our ED staff was able to effectively manage the current volume in the ED setup,” he said.
Jarvis of Northern Lights called on Mainers to help protect hospitals and their staff by following public health advice.
“If you want to be at work, we need your help in the community,” he said. “Avoid large gatherings. Stay 6 feet apart. Wear face coatings. Because you never know who is next to you and may be a health worker. “
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