AR Gould Hospital to temporarily end most visits due to increasing cases of COVID-19 in the region
Presque Isle, Maine (December 15, 2020) — For the safety of both patients and staff, Northern Light AR Gould Hospital has announced the return to a “no visitor” policy other than identified exceptions. This begins on Thursday, December 17.
“We have not made this decision lightly, and we understand it may not be popular, especially during this holiday season. However, the safety of our staff and patients must come first,” says Jay Reynolds, MD, senior physician executive. “We are in a surge situation which is due in part to the decisions people are making in the community regarding masking, physical distancing, and avoiding gatherings. As we head into another holiday event that will likely draw people together, whether ill-advised or not, we must take the steps needed to try to keep COVID-19 community spread out of our facilities.”
With this visitor policy change, no visitors will be allowed for inpatients at the hospital. The only identified exceptions to this are for pediatric patients, laboring mothers, patients with special needs, or patients at end-of-life.
Visitors had already been restricted in the Emergency Department, Day Surgery Department, Dialysis Center, Cancer Care practice, and all outpatient practices. Those restrictions remain in place. There are limited identified exceptions, particularly for children and patients with special needs, but overall, patients should not plan to have people accompany them for appointments or procedures at the hospital or any of AR Gould patient practices. Questions regarding exceptions can be directed to the specific practice or department to which a patient is going.
Visitors in Northern Light Continuing Care in Mars Hill were also recently ended.
“When community numbers were low and with no COVID-19 positive residents, we were able to offer first outside in-person visits and later inside in-person visits with strict safety protocols in place. However, with the spike in numbers in the region, our Continuing Care facility escalated from low to moderate risk, ending those visits earlier this month. It has since escalated to high risk, again due to the increased community spread of COVID-19 in our region,” explains Dr. Reynolds. The nursing home continues to have no positive COVID-19 residents.
Staff at both AR Gould Hospital and Continuing Care are making other options available for patients or residents to connect with loved ones. These options include phone calls and use of FaceTime, Zoom, and other technology. Devices and hands-on assistance will be provided as needed.