Mid Coast Hospital Establishes Safety Protocols and Sets Priorities for Bringing Back Some Services Amid COVID-19

Universal masking, screening, and testing protocols are already in place as the healthcare system brings back surgeries and other procedures for those patients for whom waiting could have medical consequences.

Mid Coast Hospital today announced enhanced safety measures and set criteria for which patients would be seen as it restores some services in accordance with state guidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Our provider and administrative leadership teams have been working to identify and prioritize time-sensitive care over the last few weeks,” said Chris Bowe, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Mid Coast–Parkview Health. "In order to ensure patient and staff safety, we have already put a number of safety measures in place including limitation of visitors, universal masking, and physical distancing protocols.”

Mid Coast Hospital will use new COVID-19 testing guidance and resources from the Maine CDC to expand surveillance of COVID-19 at the hospital and among patients about to undergo procedures as an added means for keeping patients, employees, and the community safe.

The first phase of Maine Governor Janet Mills’ reopening plan has allowed health care providers to begin to bring back services that were cancelled beginning in mid-March as part of pandemic response planning. This first phase provides an opportunity to address the needs of those patients for whom waiting could negatively impact their health and wellbeing. The current focus is on caring for patients whose pending procedures and office visits were postponed, but for whom waiting longer at this time could be clinically significant.

Decisions about which procedures and office visits to undertake will be made by clinicians, taking into account each patient’s particular needs. Providers will reach out to those patients who should have their procedure or appointment rescheduled. Anyone with new or worsening symptoms should contact their provider.

All MaineHealth hospitals, including Mid Coast Hospital, continue to maintain readiness in the event of a surge in patients with COVID-19, and as such is not completely resuming normal operations. In addition to limiting the number of procedures and appointments to be rescheduled, MaineHealth organizations will be maintaining capacity and readiness for COVID-19 patients.

"Our guiding principle is to maintain the highest level of patient, care team and community safety in accordance with federal, state and local guidance for controlling the spread of COVID-19,” said Joan Boomsma, Chief Medical Officer of MaineHealth.

For those patients whose office visits are not deemed time-sensitive and therefore have not been rescheduled, telehealth visits remain a safe and effective means for receiving care. Mid Coast offers secure telehealth video visits for patients in all primary and specialty care practices, as well as the Mid Coast Hospital Walk-In Clinic. Video visits allow patients to have a visit with their provider without having to travel or leave their home, supporting public health efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Maine.

For those who do come in, Mid Coast Hospital has issued the following guidelines to assure that care will be delivered as safely as possible during this time:

  • Social distancing measures and masking will continue at all facilities.
  • All patients who are scheduled for inpatient or outpatient surgical procedures will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms.
  • Non-COVID-19 care areas will be established wherever possible and will be staffed with dedicated care team members.
  • Patients will be tested preoperatively if their recovery could be affected by a progression of asymptomatic infection.
  • All care team members will be screened daily for symptoms of COVID-19 and kept from the workplace for testing and quarantine if they show signs of infection.
  • By June 1, all patients admitted to Mid Coast Hospital, whether they exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 or not, will be tested for the virus. (This will greatly reduce the chances of transmission from asymptomatic patients and lessen the chance that patients will have post-surgical complications from COVID-19.)
  • By June 1, testing for COVID-19 will also be offered to more patients who exhibit symptoms of an infection, even some who do not have underlying health conditions or are not a healthcare or other essential worker.

Dr. Bowe commented, "It is also very important for individuals with urgent health needs to call their provider for guidance and for anyone experiencing a health emergency to call 9-1-1. With increased telemedicine options and safe practices throughout our organization, patients can feel confident reaching out to access appropriate care in all settings.”