Hospital takes steps to care for patients during COVID-19 surge
Starting today, the Day Surgery Unit at Northern Light AR Gould Hospital will become an additional inpatient unit, increasing the hospital’s capacity by eight beds. This is one of several measures the hospital is taking to meet the high numbers of people needing inpatient care in the region.
At the same time, surgeries and cardiac procedures will be limited to emergency cases and outpatient rehabilitation therapy appointments will be delayed until further notice as staff from these areas, as well as many nurses from the hospital’s primary care and specialty care outpatient practices, will be redeployed to meet unusually high inpatient demands.
“This is an unprecedented time at the hospital,” said Jay Reynolds, MD, senior physician executive. “We are caring for more patients, patients who are more critically ill, than any other time during this pandemic. We are doing all we can to safely care for those who are within our walls. We also continue to offer monoclonal infusions as often as we can to prevent those with COVID-19 from having to be hospitalized when possible.”
Two weeks ago, as COVID-19 cases rose in northern Maine, Northern Light AR Gould Hospital began implementation of their surge plan developed early in the pandemic. At that time, patients from the Acute Rehabilitation unit were relocated to another area of the hospital to open a designated COVID-19 unit. Elective surgical procedures were halted, and the cardiac and pulmonary rehab practice was closed to redeploy staff to meet growing inpatient demand. Hospital visitation was also paused due to the high level of COVID-19 positive individuals both in the community and being treated in the hospital.
“Our staff and providers have been incredible. They implemented the plan we have been preparing for expertly and professionally. Many are now working in areas or during hours that are not the norm for them. They are stepping up and putting our patients first, which is no surprise to us,” said Daryl Boucher, vice president of operations.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases in the community have continued to rise, along with hospitalizations, demanding further action to provide inpatient care for those who are critically ill.
“The hospital remains consistently full these days, with patients waiting in the Emergency Department for a bed to become available. This, in turn, affects how many patients we can see in the ED when many beds are occupied for hours or even days at a time,” explained Reynolds. “Some people are not truly understanding how dire the situation is locally right now. To make things improve, we need people to take this seriously and to do all they can to protect themselves and those around them.”
Reynolds urges the community to do their part by getting vaccinated, masking, keeping your distance from others, and using proper hand hygiene.
“Also, a heartfelt thank you to some wonderful community partners who helped ensure our patients receive the care they need. Northern Maine Community College and the University of Maine at Presque Isle loaned additional hospital beds to accommodate the influx of patients. It truly takes a community to take care of our community and this kind of support ensures that we can treat more people here at home,” said Reynolds.