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CEO Staff Updates on COVID-19

Most weekdays, at a minimum, CEO Rod Boula provides an update to all staff on issues CRH is facing with COVID-19, within the organization, locally, or at the State/Federal level.  The updates are available for review by the community below with the most recent at the top.



January 15, 2021

In the State of Maine there are: 32,781(1) total cases; 11,876 Recovered; 1,228 Hospitalized and 477 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (16,722 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 484 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 126 positive tests out of over 6,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,328,905 negative test results.  There are 300 active cases in Washington County and 20,428 statewide.  Total US cases is 23,323,615 with total deaths of 388,887.  The Province of New Brunswick has 884 confirmed cases.

CRH received 1 new positive test results today.   All swabs are processed through January 12 collections. The Swab and Send collected 37 swabs today.   There are currently about 80 swabs pending results.  The Swab and Send provides testing at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.  

From the Maine Hospital Association’s COVID update report:  This week the CDC reported that influenza activity is unusually low, despite surging COVID-19 cases. It’s evidence that COVID-19 spreads much more rapidly than influenza, in part because people can be vaccinated against the flu. Handwashing, physical distancing and masking also reduce the spread of the flu just like they reduce the spread of COVID-19.

It’s not just influenza that isn’t spreading. The Washington Post reported that “norovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), human metapneumovirus — all appear to be circulating at or near levels lower than ever previously measured. The same is true for the respiratory bacteria that cause pertussis, better known as whooping cough and pneumonia.” Likewise, enterovirus D68, linked to a polio-like paralysis seen mostly in children, has been greatly reduced. Outbreaks of the condition have peaked in a peculiar every-other-year cycle for six years, with 120 cases across the United States in 2014, 153 in 2016, and 240 in 2018. But in 2020, the CDC confirmed just 29 cases.

Washington County saw 2 additional deaths with the stat update today and an increase of 18 more cases.    Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.    Have a great weekend.  Stay safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.



January 14, 2021

In the State of Maine there are: 31,958(1) total cases; 11,840 Recovered; 1,217 Hospitalized and 461 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (16,409 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 466 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 125 positive tests out of over 6,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,312,811 negative test results.  There are 285 active cases in Washington County and 19,657 statewide.  Total US cases is 23,103,550 with total deaths of 385,503.  The Province of New Brunswick has 859 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new positives test results today.   All swabs are processed through January 11 collections. The Swab and Send collected 24 swabs today.   There are currently about 70 swabs pending results.  The Swab and Send provides testing at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.  

As Maine CDC requested, CRH has scheduled a vaccine clinic for PHASE 1A healthcare workers in our area.   Our staff have been working diligently to vaccine CRH staff and are proud to be able to be able to assist our fellow healthcare workers with access to the vaccine as well.     There will probably continue to be confusion after the Governor’s announcement yesterday to move those 70 and older up the priority list.   CRH does have a small supply of COVID-19 vaccine – however, at this point, the CDC has only approved for us to use it for the priority group of Phase 1A.    As a hospital employee you may be asked about the vaccine.  Please share the info below regarding COVID-19 vaccine when fielding calls/inquiries at work or even out in the community: 

The Governor announced that those 70 and older are being moved up the priority list to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  However, Calais Regional Hospital HAS NOT received vaccine from the Maine CDC for this priority group.    While we understand many in this group are anxious to be vaccinated, please understand that vaccine distribution and planning is very complex between the US CDC, Maine CDC and those providing the vaccine to recipients.   The Maine CDC has not yet provided instruction to us on the front lines, NOR have we received the vaccine and supplies for this new priority group.   We can only use vaccine as indicated by the CDC – so far Maine CDC has sent us vaccine that we can ONLY USE for Phase 1A healthcare workers.   

CRH intends to work diligently to ensure access to the vaccine as expediently as possible.   Once the timeline and specific details are received from Maine CDC, plans for local distribution will be developed and shared with the public.   Please have patience, be kind, and understand we are just as anxious to provide this additional layer of protection as you are to receive it.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds. 

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab

 January 13, 2021

In the State of Maine there are: 31,150(1) total cases; 11,809 Recovered; 1,201 Hospitalized and 453 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (15,770 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 462 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 125 positive tests out of over 6,000 swabs collected since MarchMaine has had 1,301,674 negative test results.  There are 281 active cases in Washington County and 18,888 statewide.  Total US cases is 22,878,770 with total deaths of 381,790.  The Province of New Brunswick has 836 confirmed cases.

 CRH received no new positives test results today.   All swabs are processed through January 8 collections. The Swab and Send collected 15 swabs today.   There are currently about 70 swabs pending results.  The Swab and Send provides testing at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.  

 Eighty staff has been vaccinated out of the first 100 doses that were received.   This week an additional 100 doses were received – allocated for healthcare staff to be vaccinated.   The remaining staff who has not been offered the vaccine should hear from Ausaf or Shelly soon.   The CDC will be providing additional vaccine for CRH to offer vaccinations to area healthcare providers in Phase 1a.  As soon as the number of doses being sent is confirmed, we will move forward with this service for our community healthcare workers in Phase 1a. 

 There is a need for additional staff to rotate in and assist with registration at the COVID-19 testing site.  If you are interested in assisting, please send an email to Rod Tirrell.    There is also a number of screening shifts that need to be filled at the front entrance.   Any staff that would be interested in additional shifts as a Screener please reach out to Shelly Bodkin, Infection Control.   Shifts are open weekdays and weekends.  

 The Governor announced today that those 65 and older are being moved up the priority list to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.  However, neither CRH, nor the CRMS offices, have immediate access to vaccine for general community members.  CRH has not received the vaccine for this new priority group.  Despite the announcement being publicly made today, the Maine CDC has yet to communicate how the vaccines will be distributed or the when/how/by who the vaccines are to be given.  A timeline and specific details of how this process will work for our community members has not been provided.  We continue to work with the Maine CDC as plans are made and rolled out and have every intention of assisting with vaccinating our community.  But until Maine CDC issues directives and plans to us, we have no control over the vaccine availability status.   As soon as we receive directive and guidance of expectations from the Maine CDC, we will develop plans to comply and do our best to ensure access to the vaccine as expediently as we can. 

 Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds. 

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

January 12, 2021

In the State of Maine there are: 30,326(1) total cases; 11,768 Recovered; 1,189 Hospitalized and 449 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (15,404 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 455 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 125 positive tests out of over 6,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,289,051 negative test results.  There are 274 active cases in Washington County and 18,109 statewide.  Total US cases is 22,708,056 with total deaths of 378,457.  The Province of New Brunswick has 817 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new positives test results today.   All swabs are processed through January 8 collections. The Swab and Send collected 28 swabs today.   There are currently about 60 swabs pending results.  The Swab and Send provides testing at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.  

For our many staff that has received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, you may be wondering ‘What Now?’   First and foremost, everyone needs to continue the safety precautions of masking, distancing and sanitizing.    Getting one OR both doses of the vaccine is not a Get Out of Jail Free card for ending the precautions.  The vaccine is an ADDITIONAL LAYER of protection for you, your family, and community – not the single answer to the pandemic.    The CDC states there is not enough information currently available to say if or when they will stop recommending that people wear masks and avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19.   Experts need to understand more about the protection that COVID-19 vaccines provide before making that decision. Other factors, including how many people get vaccinated and how the virus is spreading in communities, will also affect this decision.   And it is still not known if a vaccinated individual is able to transmit to others.  

Expert predictions seem to be that most of 2021 will need to continue with the precautions still in place before we will return to our pre-pandemic normal life.   It is not determined yet what percentage of people would need to get vaccinated to achieve herd immunity to COVID-19. Herd immunity is a term used to describe when enough people have protection—either from previous infection or vaccination—that it is unlikely a virus or bacteria can spread and cause disease. As a result, everyone within the community is protected even if some people don’t have any protection themselves. The percentage of people who need to have protection in order to achieve herd immunity varies by disease.   The more people are vaccinated the quicker we will see a return to our pre-pandemic lives. 

Washington County once again had a high increase today (28) and the State (715).   The high number of active cases in the County makes it imperative to be cautious being out in the community.  Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds. 

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

January 11, 2021

In the State of Maine there are: 29,611(1) total cases; 11,752 Recovered; 1,171 Hospitalized and 438 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (15,165 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 432 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 125 positive tests out of over 6,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,280,185 negative test results.  There are 251 active cases in Washington County and 17,421 statewide.  Total US cases is 22,463,467 with total deaths of 374,749.  The Province of New Brunswick has 800 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new positives test results over the weekend or today.   All swabs are processed through January 7 collections. The Swab and Send collected 31 swabs today.   There are currently about 70 swabs pending results.  The Swab and Send provides testing at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.  

Maine still is in Phase 1a of its vaccine rollout, which focuses on health care workers.   CRH staff began working with Maine CDC last week to coordinate providing vaccine to other healthcare personnel in our area that are part of Phase 1a.  The CRH vaccine team is working through the logistics to be able to provide this service to our fellow healthcare workers in Eastern Washington County.  Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC Director, said its likely Phase 1a will last through the month. By February, the goal is to vaccinate all health care personnel and long-term care residents. The next phases include frontline essential workers, people with high-risk medical conditions and older people.

The worldwide COVID-19 toll rose over the 90 million mark today, the US moved over 22 million confirmed cases and set a record for new cases in a single day on Friday at 300,000.   This was all following the record on Thursday of 4,000 deaths in the US.  Cases are rising in nearly every state in the country. 

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds. 

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

January 8, 2021

In the State of Maine there are: 28,407(1) total cases; 11,690 Recovered; 1,150 Hospitalized and 426 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (14,570 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 423 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 125 positive tests out of over 6,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,251,474 negative test results.  There are 242 active cases in Washington County and 16,291 statewide. The Washington County 28 Day New Case Rates released Jan 7 is 68.52; the last reported New Case Rate on Dec 31 was 57.36.   Total US cases is 21,644,957 with total deaths of 366,269.  The Province of New Brunswick has 735 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new positives test result today.   All swabs are processed through January 5 collections. The Swab and Send collected 40 swabs today.   There are currently about 70 swabs pending results.  The Swab and Send provides testing at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.  

By the end of the day today, 70 CRH employees will have received the COVID-19 vaccine.  We hope to have the remainder of the 100 doses completed next week.   CRH is working with Maine CDC to also provide other Phase 1A health care workers with the vaccine as well.   Current plans are to conduct a one day clinic on a Saturday later this month to accommodate staff of other healthcare facilities.  The Maine CDC website shows almost 47,000 people eligible in phase 1A have been vaccinated.

Today Maine set two new records.  The CDC reported 41 COVID-19 related deaths which beat the last record of 20 by just over double.   There are 789 new cases of COVID-19, which broke the previous record of 746.   The spike coincides with the two week mark since Christmas, making predictions of an increase in cases looking to be coming true. 

Washington County saw another death in today’s CDC data release as well as additional new cases.  We continue to have a high number of active cases in the County making it imperative to be cautious being out in the community.  Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds. 

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

January 7, 2021

In the State of Maine there are: 27,625(1) total cases; 11,658 Recovered; 1,135 Hospitalized and 385 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (14,028 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 416 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 125 positive tests out of over 6,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,237,205 negative test results.  There are 237 active cases in Washington County and 15,582 statewide.   Total US cases is 21,468,084 with total deaths of 363,519.  The Province of New Brunswick has 717 confirmed cases.

CRH received 1 new positive test result today.   All swabs are processed through January 4 collections. The Swab and Send collected 12 swabs today.   There are currently about 75 swabs pending results.  The Swab and Send provides testing at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.  

The Maine Hospital Association shared the following interesting info on Tuesday:   According to Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah, Monday was the one year anniversary of the first time he and his staff met to discuss a novel coronavirus in China that seemed to be causing severe pneumonia.   It was also the same day that the medical news site Stat reported on the illness. Monday, the site published an interview with the reporter who broke the story. On Jan 20, 2020, MHA shared a story about healthcare workers catching the virus, making it clear that transmission from person to person were happening.

Now, a year later, we have some good news–last week, Maine crossed a psychological threshold. The state has more people vaccinated against COVID-19 than have been infected with COVID-19.   Still, only about 2.49% of the state has been vaccinated, according to a Jan 5 chart in Bloomberg. However, Maine is doing a better job getting shots in arms than most states having distributed more than half of the 66,000 doses of vaccine received.

The fact that states are in charge of distributing the vaccine has made for some glaring differences in who is receiving the vaccine. The MHA editor’s father, in his mid-80s, living alone in Florida, could be vaccinated as soon as this week. Her mother, living independently in Maine, likely won’t get the vaccine until February at the earliest.  A friend who works at a hospital in an administrative capacity in a mid-western state capital was able to be vaccinated because her hospital had extra doses. In New York State, the governor is threatening to punish practitioners who administer the vaccine to people before their turn.  

On the topic of vaccines, it seems like a good time to once again share links to vaccine trackers, because there are still other vaccines in the pipeline, including ones that work differently than the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines. There’s the New York Times vaccine tracker and the Stat vaccine and drugs tracker.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family, and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds. 

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

January 6, 2021

In the State of Maine there are: 27,090(1) total cases; 11,607 Recovered; 1,124 Hospitalized and 372 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (13,807 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 411 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 124 positive tests out of over 6,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,225,863 negative test results.  There are 232 active cases in Washington County and 15,111 statewide.   Total US cases is 21,188,411 with total deaths of 359,445.  The Province of New Brunswick has 693 confirmed cases.

CRH received 1 new positive test result today.   All swabs are processed through December 30 collections. The Swab and Send collected 17 swabs today.   There are currently about 100 swabs pending results.  The Swab and Send provides testing at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

As our staff continues to be vaccinated, we would like to track any side effects that staff experience after receiving the vaccine.    Side effects reported with the Moderna vaccine include:

  • Injection site reactions: pain, tenderness and swelling of the lymph nodes in the same arm of the injection, swelling (hardness), and redness
  • General side effects: fatigue, headache, muscle pain, joint pain, chills, nausea and vomiting, and fever

If you have already received your vaccine and experienced any side effects please send an email to Shelly Bodkin, RN Infection Control. This information is helpful for providing feedback and tracking purposes.   Staff is also encouraged to register for the V-safe app.  V-safe is a smartphone-based tool that uses text messaging and web surveys to provide personalized health check-ins after you receive a COVID-19 vaccination. Through V-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information. And V-safe will remind you to get your second COVID-19 vaccine dose if you need one.

Your participation in CDC’s V–safe makes a difference — it helps keep COVID-19 vaccines safe.

If you have questions on the COVID-19 vaccine please remember staff can submit questions to CRH Pharmacist, Ausaf Tak.  Please remember to have patience with our vaccine team and that we are all in this together with the same goal of providing the vaccine as quickly and efficiently as we can.   Just as every other step of the pandemic, the arrival of the vaccine brings a new stress, anxiety and questions.  During high stress times like these it is very easy and common to lash out at our co-workers.   Please remember we are all performing a crucial role and doing the best we can.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

January 5, 2021

In the State of Maine there are: 26,565(1) total cases; 11,582 Recovered; 1,117 Hospitalized and 369 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (13,539 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 405 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 123 positive tests out of over 6,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,216,216 negative test results.  There are 226 active cases in Washington County and 14,614 statewide.   Total US cases is 20,865,626 with total deaths of 354,778.  The Province of New Brunswick has 662 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new results today.   All swabs are processed through December 30 collections. The Swab and Send collected 46 swabs today.   There are currently about 80 swabs pending results.  The Swab and Send provides testing at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

Maine is still in Phase 1A vaccinating healthcare workers, paramedics and nursing home residents.  During Monday’s CDC update Director Dr. Nirav Shah shared that Maine is considering altering the vaccination plan for Phase 1B, which includes frontline essential workers and adults 75 years and older.   Discussions are underway about moving the older adults higher on the priority list.  The Federal CDC has issued guidelines, but ultimately final decisions are up to State officials.  Quite a few other States have opted to push up the older adults on the priority list.

We understand many community members are anxious to know where they are on the priority list and where they will receive the vaccine.   However with so much yet to be solidified, the key for our community members will be to have patience until direction is provided by the State.  Until that occurs, vaccine providers like CRH have no answers.

The CRH Vaccine Team has worked on strategies and had general discussions on various possibilities for providing vaccine to the general population.   But until guidance and instruction is provided by the State, nothing can be solidified.    Once the timeline and direction is provided, CRH will move forward with developing plans for vaccine rollout for those in our community that are part of eligible phases.  Vaccination access/availability will be communicated via the local media, the hospital’s website and the Facebook page.

CDC data continues to show increasing active cases in Washington County.  It is imperative that we do not get complacent with COVID-19 precautions.  Our community depends on us.   Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

January 4, 2021

In the State of Maine there are: 25,968(1) total cases; 11,548 Recovered; 1,107 Hospitalized and 360 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (13,292 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 394 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 123 positive tests out of over 6,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,201,241 negative test results.  There are 216 active cases in Washington County and 14,060 statewide.   Total US cases is 20,640,214 with total deaths of 351,590.  The Province of New Brunswick has 635 confirmed cases.

CRH received 2 positive results since 12/31.   All swabs are processed through December 30 collections. The Swab and Send collected 35 swabs today.   The Swab and Send provides walk through testing at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

Staff vaccinations will continue this week.  Groups of 10 are vaccinated to ensure no doses are wasted.  This will continue until all 100 doses are utilized.   We are hoping to get more vaccine to provide to staff, and will continue to use the prioritized list of staff based on risk of exposure as doses are received.   The Maine CDC still has not issued guidance on the roll out of vaccine for the general public phases.  As soon as a directive is received from the CDC the vaccine team will review possible strategies to best accomplish the goal of making vaccine available to those eligible.   As of the end of 2020, Maine had used 51.1% of the doses received from the federal government, more than any other state and more than twice the national rate.

Just a reminder of the Maine Front Line Warm Line: a resource run by trained volunteers.  The purpose of this warm line is to help Maine’s health care workers and first responders manage the emotional toll of COVID-19.  Volunteers are trained to help by doing the following:

  • Helping people understand their current situations and reactions.
  • Reducing stress and providing emotional support.
  • Promoting the use or development of coping strategies.
  • Connecting callers with other resources that can help meet their needs.
  • Allow them to vent (without bias) and to support their overall mental health well-being.

This is a confidential and free service.  The program is open to all employees and their families who have sacrificed so much.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 31, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 24,201(1) total cases; 11,374 Recovered; 1,065 Hospitalized and 347 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (12,263 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 343 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 121 positive tests out of over 5,800 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,177,522 negative test results.  There are 202 active cases in Washington County and 12,480 statewide.  The Washington County 28 Day New Case Rates released Dec 31 is 57.36; the last reported New Case Rate on Dec 17 was 30.59.    Total US cases is 19,410,043 with total deaths of 336,325.  The Province of New Brunswick has 599 confirmed cases.

CRH received no positive results today.   All swabs are processed through December 28 collections.    The Swab and Send provides testing at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

For the third time Maine has had an increase of over 700 new cases.  Over 30 new cases in Washington County have been reported in the last two days.  The new case rate has steadily increased since October. Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  With the New Year’s holiday this week, there will be NO daily memo on New Year’s Day.

Thank you for your commitment during this most unprecedented year in healthcare and everything you do for Calais Regional Hospital. We depend on the efforts of the experienced, devoted, and talented people who serve our Hospital. The New Year, 2021, promises many new challenges and opportunities (as if 2020 was not enough!) for the hospital and I hope you will share my resolution for the coming year to carry on our charge to uphold the hospital as a responsible, efficient, caring, hospitable environment that welcomes all and fulfills our most ambitious aspirations.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 30, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 23,499(1) total cases; 11,326 Recovered; 1,039 Hospitalized and 334 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (11,877 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 357 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 121 positive tests out of over 5,800 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,164,246 negative test results.  There are 182 active cases in Washington County and 11,839 statewide.   Total US cases is 19,653,653 with total deaths of 340,956.  The Province of New Brunswick has 596 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new results today.   All swabs are processed through December 23 collections.    The Swab and Send site collected 26 swabs today. The CRH Swab and Send walkthrough testing site at 18 Palmer St is closed for the holiday weekend now and will reopen on Monday, January 4 at 8 a.m.

Our first batch of staff was vaccinated today! ED RN Trudy Gillespie was CRH’s first staff member to receive the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.  Vaccinations are another milestone moment of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maine is using a phased approach to vaccination.   At this time the vaccine is limited to health care workers, emergency responders and those living in nursing facilities.   The next anticipated CDC recommended groups are non-frontline essential workers and those aged 16-64 with high-risk medical conditions (not yet defined).   The Maine CDC info webpage is  www.maine.gov/covid19/vaccines  and includes links to Latest Updates and FAQs for the public.    According to the Maine CDC page it is expected to be Summer 2021 before the general public will begin to have access to the vaccine.  People will learn about access to vaccines through the Maine CDC, healthcare providers and their employers.  COVID-19 vaccines are an important tool to help stop this pandemic.  Getting the vaccine adds another layer of protection for families and our community as a whole.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Don’t forget when at work ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES.    Thank you for all you do to care for our community.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 29, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 22,909(1) total cases; 11,248 Recovered; 1,041 Hospitalized and 333 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (11,582 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 343 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 121 positive tests out of over 5,800 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,158,549 negative test results.  There are 168 active cases in Washington County and 11,328 statewide.   Total US cases is 19,410,043 with total deaths of 336,325.  The Province of New Brunswick has 595 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new results today.   All swabs are processed through December 23 collections.    The Swab and Send site collected 26 swabs today.   During New Year’s holiday week, the CRH Swab and Send walkthrough testing site at 18 Palmer St will be available, ONLY 3 DAYS:  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8-10 a.m.

Congress passed its latest COVID relief bill this week and it has several parts of interest for hospitals.  Unfortunately, the package contains only $3 billion in new funding for the provider relief fund, which has previously provided funding for hospitals.  Versions of the bill just the week prior had estimated the amount of new funding for providers/hospitals was around $35 billion.  The final package containing less than 10% of what was initially proposed was quite disheartening.

New information continues to be discovered about the COVID-19 virus.  One of the newest discoveries is that the viral load, or amount of virus in the body, may predict how sick a patient becomes.  Recent published studies reported patients with high viral load often became seriously ill and were more likely to die.   The studies indicate that tracking viral load can help providers determine treatment plans and better assess which patients need closer monitoring or possibly more advanced and aggressive treatment.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Don’t forget when at work ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES.    Thank you for all you do to care for our community.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 28, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 22,319(1) total cases; 11,184 Recovered; 1,032 Hospitalized and 326 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (11,318 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 339 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 121 positive tests out of over 5,800 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,180,847 negative test results.  There are 164 active cases in Washington County and 10,809 statewide.   Total US cases is 19,221,164 with total deaths of 334,025.  The Province of New Brunswick has 593 confirmed cases.

CRH received 8 new positive result over the holiday and weekend.   All swabs are processed through December 23 collections.    The Swab and Send site collected 36 swabs today.   During New Year’s holiday week, the CRH Swab and Send walkthrough testing site at 18 Palmer St will be available, ONLY 3 DAYS:  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8-10 a.m.

Plans are being worked on to hopefully to begin vaccinating staff this week.   We received 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine last week.   The vaccine team is working through the priority list of staff documenting those who wish to receive the vaccine.  Once the 100 doses are accounted for, no more staff will be able to sign up for a vaccine dose until more dose 1 supplies are received from the State.   Those that take part receiving dose 1 are guaranteed to receive dose 2 in 28 days.   The employee screening form has been updated to account for collecting info on the possible mild symptoms of the COVID-19 vaccine (similar to what is experienced when receiving the flu shot).   The symptoms should be mild and not impact staff’s ability to work, as long as they remain mild and with no fever.   Just as we have been doing, all symptoms should be documented at the screening station and staff must see the NSM to be cleared to work.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Don’t forget when at work ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES.    Thank you for all you do to care for our community.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 23, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 20,491(1) total cases; 11,039 Recovered; 1,000 Hospitalized and 311 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (10,152 or 50%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 324 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 113 positive tests out of over 5,800 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,110,701 negative test results.  There are 150 active cases in Washington County and 9,141 statewide.   Total US cases is 18,348,619 with total deaths of 324,674.  The Province of New Brunswick has 585 confirmed cases.

CRH received 1 new positive result today.   All swabs are processed through December 18 collections.    The Swab and Send site collected 6 swabs today.   During Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks, the CRH Swab and Send walkthrough testing site at 18 Palmer St will be available, ONLY 3 DAYS:  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8-10 a.m.

Please remember we follow the CDC guideline on NOT using a N95 mask as a reverse control.  A well-fitting medical grade mask and eye protection are the best defense for all healthcare workers in communities with moderate to high transmission.  The spike in use of N95 masks over the last few weeks coupled with the difficulty in obtaining new stock makes following this CDC guidance extremely important.  Appropriate use of the appropriate PPE at the appropriate time is of utmost importance to ensure we have the needed PPE to keep our staff and patients safe as we continue to deal with cases in our community.

Maine CDC reported a record 748 new cases today, breaking the high set just last week by more than 150 cases.  The state also crested over the 20,000 mark today for total cases since the pandemic began.  Just a month ago the state had barely topped over 10,000 new cases.  December has been the deadliest month so far and there is still another week to go.   So many new records have been reached over and over since the Thanksgiving holiday.  While it may be difficult, please try to limit indoor functions and family gatherings to do your part in helping to stop another surge after Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Don’t forget when at work ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES.    With the Christmas Holiday this week, there will be NO daily memos on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.   Best wishes for a safe and peaceful holiday weekend.  Thank you for all you do to care for our community.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 22, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 19,743(1) total cases; 10,884 Recovered; 985 Hospitalized and 303 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (9,806 or 50%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 306 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 112 positive tests out of over 5,800 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,089,701 negative test results.  There are 137 active cases in Washington County and 8,556 statewide.   Total US cases is 18,101,653 with total deaths of 320,864.  The Province of New Brunswick has 580 confirmed cases.

CRH received 2 new positive results today.   All swabs are processed through December 18 collections.    The Swab and Send site collected 45 swabs today.   During Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks, the CRH Swab and Send walkthrough testing site at 18 Palmer St will be available, ONLY 3 DAYS:  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8-10 a.m.

Maine CDC officials continue to warn that community transmission is “forceful and widespread” throughout the state. High community transmission is defined by the CDC as more than 16 cases per 10,000 people.   Every county in Maine, including Washington County, is at the high level.  Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah shared in yesterday’s update that the CDC is struggling to keep up with the surge in cases.  This is after the recent decision for not all positive cases to be assigned a contact tracer.    With the surges across the state and country the CDC is strongly advising people to stay home for the holidays and limit gatherings, especially those inside.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Don’t forget when at work ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES.  Thank you for continued commitment to caring for our community.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 21, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 19,285(1) total cases; 10,837 Recovered; 980 Hospitalized and 293 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (9,672 or 50%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 301 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 110 positive tests out of over 5,800 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,089,701 negative test results.  There are 132 active cases in Washington County and 8,155 statewide.   Total US cases is 17,905,466 with total deaths of 318,300.  The Province of New Brunswick has 578 confirmed cases.

CRH has received 3 new positive results since Friday.   All swabs are processed through December 17 collections.    The Swab and Send site collected 84 swabs today.   During Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks, the CRH Swab and Send walkthrough testing site at 18 Palmer St will be available, ONLY 3 DAYS:  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8-10 a.m.

We received our initial doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine today.  The COVID-19 Vaccine team has stratified our staff based on risk of COVID-19 exposure. Staff will be offered the vaccine according to this prioritization.   Getting the vaccine adds one more layer of protection for you, your coworkers, patients and your family.   Building defenses against COVID-19 in this facility and in our community is a team effort and YOU can be a key part of that defense.

We continue to see additional cases in our community.   Be safe when you are out and about.  Reach out to those that have COVID-19 or those that are in quarantine as a close contact and offer to pick up supplies.   Many people will not ask, so reach and offer your support and assistance.  Help take care of our community members so they are easily able to follow the quarantine guidelines.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Don’t forget when at work ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES.  Thank you for continued commitment to caring for our community.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 18, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 18,337(1) total cases; 10,744 Recovered; 965 Hospitalized and 281 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (9,256 or 50%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 276 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 107 positive tests out of over 5,500 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,068,605 negative test results.  There are 109 active cases in Washington County and 7,312 statewide.   Total US cases is 17,215,067 with total deaths of 310,806.  The Province of New Brunswick has 573 confirmed cases.

CRH received 1 new positive result today.   Swabs from December 15 collections are in process.  The Swab and Send site collected 47 swabs today.   During Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks, the CRH Swab and Send walkthrough testing site at 18 Palmer St will be available,

ONLY 3 DAYS:  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8-10 a.m.

The review panel recommended approval  to the FDA for Moderna’s Emergency Use Authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine.  The expectation is that will happen today or tomorrow and shipments will be able to begin by Sunday.   This is the vaccine that facilities like CRH expect to receive as it does not require specialized storage in an ultra low temp freezer.  The Moderna vaccine is stored at standard freezer temps.

Friday’s Quirky COVID News:   The pandemic has pushed a Japanese apparel company to create and market a “Pajamas Suit” that meant to resemble office attire for Zoom meetings but feel as comfortable as sleepwear.   The navy, beige, black and dark grey suites are for men and women teleworkers.   The “pajama suit” highlights the ways clothing makers are trying to adapt as they struggle to sell business suits in the COVID-19 era.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Don’t forget when at work ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES.  Thank you for continued commitment to caring for our community.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 17, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 17,901(1) total cases; 10,688 Recovered; 958 Hospitalized and 276 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (9,080 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 264 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 106 positive tests out of over 5,500 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,055,654 negative test results.  There are 97 active cases in Washington County and 6,937 statewide.  The Washington County 28 Day New Case Rates released Dec 17 is 30.59; last week’s New Case Rate was 24.54.    Total US cases is 17,011,532 with total deaths of 308,098.  The Province of New Brunswick has 573 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new positive results today.   All swabs are processed through December 14 collections.  The Swab and Send site collected 54 swabs today.   During Christmas and New Year’s holiday weeks, the CRH Swab and Send walkthrough testing site at 18 Palmer St will be available, ONLY 3 DAYS:  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 8-10 a.m.  The overnight increase of 32 cases in Washington County is the largest one day increase to date.  The State also once again broke its record high for new cases (set just yesterday) with over 600 new cases reported today.

We have many new cases in our community which leads to a very real possibility that staff may become a close contact or contact of a positive COVID-19 person.   Please be sure to review the email and memo sent out from Shelly Bodkin, RN, Infection Control yesterday afternoon on the proper precautions per the CDC guidelines that staff needs to take in these instances.   See your Director or Shelly if you have any questions.

The days are continuing to get shorter and with COVID-19 cases skyrocketing in the state and our community, the potential for a bleak holiday season is increasing.  There are some virtual holiday offerings you can take advantage of.  Here’s a sample:

  • There is the New York City Ballet’s broadcast of George Balanchine’s Nutcracker streaming December 11, 2020 through January 3, 2021 on Marquee TV.
  • The Metropolitan Opera will host its New Year’s Gala at 4 p.m. on December 31.
  • And right at your home for viewing on December 21, Jupiter and Saturn will align so closely in the night sky that they’ll almost appear to collide from our vantage point here on Earth, creating a radiant point of light often referred to as the “Star of Bethlehem” or the “Christmas Star.” You can read more about it here.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Don’t forget when at work ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES.  Thank you for continued commitment to caring for our community.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 16, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 17,311(1) total cases; 10,650 Recovered; 934 Hospitalized and 267 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (8,817 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 232 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 96 positive tests out of over 5,500 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,047,513 negative test results.  There are 66 active cases in Washington County and 6,394 statewide.   Total US cases is 16,725,319 with total deaths of 303,948.  The Province of New Brunswick has 567 confirmed cases.

CRH received 9 new positive results today.   All swabs except for one are processed through December 14 collections.  The Swab and Send site collected 63 swabs today.   Walkthrough testing is available at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.  With some clusters of cases in our area, please limit exposure to those outside of your household to reduce spread.

CRH has completed and submitted an application to the State of Maine and the CDC to be a location to provide COVID-19 vaccinations for our staff members.  Our application has been approved, and we are in the process of being set up with the Maine Immunization Information.  The hospital has had a team working as part of the State’s vaccine planning efforts for the last few months.   For the CRH team, Pharmacist Ausaf Tak is the primary coordinator and Shelly Bodkin, RN, Infection Control is the secondary coordinator.   Please see the update email for more detailed information Ausaf sent to all staff yesterday afternoon.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Don’t forget when at work ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES.  Thank you for continued commitment to caring for our community.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 15, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 16,760(1) total cases; 10,614 Recovered; 909 Hospitalized and 265 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (8,524 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 222 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 96 positive tests out of over 5,500 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,037,393 negative test results.  There are 56 active cases in Washington County and 5,881 statewide.   Total US cases is 16,570,694 with total deaths of 298,507.  The Province of New Brunswick has 559 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new test results today.   Swabs are processed through December 11 collections.  The Swab and Send site collected 99 swabs today.   Walkthrough testing is available at 18 Palmer St, Mon – Fri, 8-10 a.m.  With some clusters of cases in our area, please limit exposure to those outside of your household to reduce spread.

Today was the sixth time Maine had more than 400 new COVID-19 cases, with all of them occurring since December 7.   The seven day daily average was 368.7 yesterday, compared to 290.4 a week ago and 172.9 a month ago.  Even with Maine’s higher trends, we are still third lowest in the country with only Vermont and Hawaii having lower rates.   Thirteen states had rates at least four times higher than Maine.  “What’s happened in other states could happen here,” CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said yesterday. “We need to do everything in our power today to keep ourselves shored up and safe and we can do that by keeping our guard up.”   With us being months away before vaccines are widely available, it is imperative that everyone follow safe practices to contain the spread and keep the strain on our healthcare system down.

Wondering what winter activities is high risk during COVID-19?   The attached handout was shared with me from the University of Vermont Health Network.  Safe, healthy choices are possible – but please remember that the infectious disease experts that ranked these activities assumed that proper safety precautions are followed.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Don’t forget when at work ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES.  Thank you for continued commitment to caring for our community.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 14, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 16,349(1) total cases; 10,548 Recovered; 893 Hospitalized and 259 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (8,251 or 50%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 215 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 90 positive tests out of over 5,300 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,030,077 negative test results.  There are 49 active cases in Washington County and 5,542 statewide.   Total US cases is 16,293,597 with total deaths of 299,455.  The Province of New Brunswick has 546 confirmed cases.

CRH received 6 new positive results between Saturday and Monday.   Swabs are processed through December 11 collections.  The Swab and Send site collected 124 swabs today.   Walkthrough testing is available at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.    The state and country continue to see high levels of new cases, with the US averaging over 200,000 new cases per day over the last week.   The country has surpassed the 16 million mark for cases and is on track to surpass 300,000 deaths sometime today.

Late Friday the Pfizer vaccine was approved for distribution.   Shortly after 9 a.m. today the vaccine was administered at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in Queens, the first known inoculation in the U.S.   The first doses of the vaccine arrived in Maine this morning, with one delivery at Mercy Hospital and one at Northern Light EMMC.   Vaccine will continue to trickle into the State as part of the vaccine distribution plan.  This is a tremendous milestone that many have been working on since the first Vaccine Team meetings began months ago.  The first deliveries of vaccine included 1950 doses.  Healthcare workers and nursing home residents will be the first targeted recipients of the vaccine.   Community level vaccinations should occur in a few months.

During today’s update Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said that even with community level vaccinations months away there are actions “you can do today while we wait for vaccines to be available.  “First thing you can do today is simply not to let your guard down,” said Dr. Shah.   He reminded everyone to continue with their safety precautions of masks, physical distancing, etc.  He also encouraged Maine residents to keep on top of their healthcare and take care of needed visits and tests.  Finally, he also encouraged everyone to get a flu shot.   “We need to take care of ourselves today,” Dr. Shah emphasized during his update.

With widespread community transmission and increased COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Maine, Governor Janet Mills signed an Executive Order on Friday that simplifies and strengthens the enforcement of the State’s face covering requirement. Moving forward, owners and operators of all indoor public spaces – regardless of the type of entity or size – must not allow those who refuse to wear a face covering to enter or remain in their venue.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Don’t forget when at work ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES.  Thank you for continued commitment.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 11, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 15,206(1) total cases; 10,444 Recovered; 855 Hospitalized and 250 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (7,711 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 208 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 90 positive tests out of over 5,100 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 1,004,593 negative test results.  There are 43 active cases in Washington County and 4,512 statewide.  The Washington County New Case Rates released Dec 10 are 24.54 (28 day) and 4.14 (14 day).   Total US cases is 15,632,336 with total deaths of 292,382.  The Province of New Brunswick has 546 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new positive test results today.  Swabs are processed through December 8 collections.  There are about 85 tests pending for processing.  The Swab and Send site collected 36 swabs today.   Walkthrough testing is available at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

The FDA is expected to issue the emergency authorization for Pfizer’s vaccine tomorrow.    As long as there are no last minute snags, vaccinations could begin as soon as early next week.   This is right on the heels of the US hitting another record breaking mark of over 3,000 deaths on Wednesday.  Initial doses of vaccines are designated to select groups of healthcare workers and nursing home residents.   CRH staff have been working over the last few  weeks as part of the Maine Vaccine Group participating in the planning of distribution of the vaccine in Maine.

Friday’s Quirky COVID News:  The central Moscow business district began offering food delivery options that don’t require human interactions this week.   Using an app meal deliveries can be requested via a robot buggy.   The robot picks up the order from the restaurant and delivers to the customer who then unlocks the robot using their smartphone.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Don’t forget when at work ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES.  Thank you for continued commitment.   Have a great weekend!

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 10, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 14,861(1) total cases; 10,394 Recovered; 834 Hospitalized and 246 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (7,512 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 201 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 90 positive tests out of over 5,100 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 992,612 negative test results.  There are 36 active cases in Washington County and 4,221 statewide.  The Washington County New Case Rates released Dec 10 are 24.54 (28 day) and 4.14 (14 day).   Last week’s New Case Rates were 34.74 (28 day) and 9.56 (14 day).    Total US cases is 15,470,795 with total deaths of 290,670.  The Province of New Brunswick has 542 confirmed cases.

CRH received 3 new positive test results today.  Swabs are processed through December 8 collections.  There are about 50 tests pending for processing.  The Swab and Send site collected 33 swabs today.   Walkthrough testing is available at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

The requirement most ALL Maine hospitals are placing on employees to wear eye protection now whether clinical or non-clinical is based on the CDC’s New Case Rate per 10,000 people in the last 28 days.  The CDC has three levels for this metric:  High (16 and above), Moderate (8-15), Low (7 or less).    If the County rate for the last 28 days is moderate to high then the CDC guidelines are for ALL staff to wear eye protection due to the increased community transmission.  The Maine CDC reports the 14 day and 28 day New Case Rate per 10,000 people weekly – typically on Thursdays. The New Case Rates data released today are included in the first paragraph and will be updated with each weekly release. An interesting note relating to this was a report in a Bangor Daily News article this week that there has not been a single reported case of COVID-19 transmission in a dental office between patients and dental staff in the world.  Dental staff have worn eye protection for decades and then added shields due to COVID-19. With the ability of the virus to be suspended in the air and then infiltrate via the eye, including eye protection during a time of higher community transmission is simply an easy additional layer of defense against COVID-19.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Don’t forget when at work ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES.  Thank you for continued commitment.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 9, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 14,454(1) total cases; 10,338 Recovered; 819 Hospitalized and 246 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (7,305 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 199 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 87 positive tests out of over 5,100 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 980,878 negative test results.  There are 36 active cases in Washington County and 3,870 statewide.  Total US cases is 15,312,981 with total deaths of 287,985.  The Province of New Brunswick has 542 confirmed cases.

CRH received 3 positive test results today.  Swabs are processed through December 7 collections. There are about 60 tests pending for processing.  The Swab and Send site collected 15 swabs today.   Walkthrough testing is available at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

A reminder and further clarification on the use of eye protection PPE:  Washington County is still at the High Community Transmission level according to CDC guidelines.   With this level of transmission in our county ALL STAFF must now wear eye protection at ALL TIMES (not just staff providing direct patient care) in addition to a face mask to ensure the eyes, nose and mouth are protected from respiratory secretions during patient/community member encounters.  This additional precaution is based on the assumption that with High Community Transmission the potential is increased to encounter an asymptomatic COVID-19 positive person who is not aware of their infection.   Per clarification by the CDC:  Personal glasses with side protectors are not considered eye protection.   Please utilize safety goggles and face shields over personal glasses. 

  • Staff will receive eye protection to be used at work.
  • Staff providing direct patient care to a COVID-19 patient or suspect will continue with the current practice and procedures of eye protection utilizing safety goggles or face shields.
  • The eye protection provided to staff, NOT providing direct patient care to COVID-19 patients or suspects, is cleanable and reusable.
  • Please care and maintain your eye protection to safeguard it’s longevity to help us preserve our PPE levels.  To clean your eye protection: carefully wipe the inside followed by the outside using any hospital disinfectant/wipes and allow to air dry.   Clean water or alcohol swabs can be used to remove any residue.   Perform hand hygiene after cleaning or anytime you have touched your eye protection.
  • When your eye protection needs to be replaced for damage, clarity of vision or inability to be cleaned; see your Department Director or Nursing Service Manager.
  • Personal safety glasses/goggles may be purchased but must meet the guidelines as follows for adequate protection:
    • Glasses must be large enough to overlap the top edge of mask and reach the eyebrow.
    • Glasses must have side shield protection.
    • Glasses must be either worn over personal glasses (if worn to correct vision) or be prescription safety glasses that meet the standards.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.    Thank you for continued commitment.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 8, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 14,049(1) total cases; 10,247 Recovered; 803 Hospitalized and 239 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (7,116 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 198 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 84 positive tests out of over 5,100 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 971,043 negative test results.  There are 35 active cases in Washington County and 3,563 statewide.  Total US cases is 15,067,819 with total deaths of 285,190.  The Province of New Brunswick has 541 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new test results today.  Swabs are processed through December 4 collections. There are about 100 tests pending for processing.  The Swab and Send site collected 46 swabs today.   Walkthrough testing is available at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

The Maine CDC has reduced the length of time a close contact of a person infected with COVID-19 need to quarantine, but the state’s guidance is still stricter than the new guidance from the U.S. CDC.  Until now, both the state and federal CDC required an exposed person to quarantine for 14 days.  On Tuesday, the U.S. CDC changed its guidance to allow exposed people to end their quarantine after 10 days, if they haven’t been tested. If they are tested and test negative, the federal guidance says they can be released after 7 days.  But the Maine CDC isn’t allowing for the shorter testing option. So the state guidance says that exposed people should quarantine for 10 days whether or not they test negative near the end of their quarantine.

With the rising number of COVID-19 cases, Maine CDC contact tracers have not been able to keep up with contacting every positive case. Yesterday the Maine CDC announced a change in how contact tracers will operate – utilizing a hierarchy to determine which cases they will investigate.  Starting now, the state will conduct case investigations only on members of the following groups:

–Those 18 years old and younger

–Those 65 years old and older

–Healthcare workers and first responders

–Those who are hospitalized

–Those with disabilities

–Those associated with schools and childcare facilities

–Those whose demographic information make them at higher risk

–Those who live in congregant care settings, including those in nursing homes,

homeless shelters and correctional facilities

CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said that anyone notified of a positive result should immediately isolate for 10 days and contact everyone they had recent contact with so that they can quarantine for 10 days. State contact tracers will be working only with patients in the aforementioned categories.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.    Thank you for continued commitment.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 7, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 13,775(1) total cases; 10,146 Recovered; 781 Hospitalized and 227 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (6,969 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 197 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 84 positive tests out of over 5,100 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 963,751 negative test results.  There are 36 active cases in Washington County and 3,402 statewide.  Total US cases is 14,793,047 with total deaths of 282,797.  The Province of New Brunswick has 536 confirmed cases.

CRH received 3 new positive results since Saturday.  Swabs are processed through December 4 collections. There are 55 tests pending for processing.  The Swab and Send site collected 55 swabs today.   Walkthrough testing is available at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

Maine set another record today with 425 new cases, skyrocketing past the single day record set less than a week ago by 76.  On Sunday an all-time high of 171 hospitalizations was reached.    In an effort to contain the spread of COVID-19, Governor Mills announced on Friday that the requirement for certain businesses statewide to close by 9 p.m. is extended to Sunday, January 3, 2021.  The extension, which lasts beyond New Year’s Eve, is aimed at limiting activities that lead to COVID-19 transmission, amid a sustained and dangerous increase in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and positivity rates in the State of Maine.

England will be the first nation to begin providing COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday morning.  England hopes to utilize healthcare workers, volunteers and the military to roll out the vaccine to more than 20 million people over the next few months.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.    Thank you for continued commitment.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 4, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 12,844(1) total cases; 9,877 Recovered; 751 Hospitalized and 224 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (6,498 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 198 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 81 positive tests out of just over 5,100 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 936,582 negative test results.  There are 37 active cases in Washington County and 2,743 statewide.  Total US cases is 14,174,983 with total deaths of 276,773.  The Province of New Brunswick has 528 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new results today.  Swabs are processed through December 1 collections. There are about 100 tests pending for collections.  The Swab and Send site collected 23 swabs today.   Walkthrough testing is available at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

ALL participants of meetings at CRH, including those that are NOT employees, must wear a mask and eye protection.  Social distancing is not always assured and the closed meeting rooms have reduced air circulation.  Those two factors in combination with the CDC ranking of moderate to high transmission level for our county make masks and eye protection a required precaution.  For those attending meetings, medical masks are preferred and available at the screening station.  Eye protection has been given to Molly Fletcher in Administration for committee members that are not employees and can be reused.

The hospital received a supply of white face masks that are too small for adult use.  We have decided to utilize the masks by sponsoring a Face Mask Design Contest for our area elementary school kids.  Notices were sent to the school to inquire if they want to participate.  See attached flyer.

Friday’s Quirky COVID News:  Orders for a Brazilian pig-feeding robot, which plays classical music while dispensing meals, soared this year as farmers strove to cut costs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.  Roboagro, the privately-owned company that sells the robot, said in a statement sent to Reuters on Thursday that orders rose by an average of 400% to 60 units per month.   The robot reduces the presence of humans on pig farms and assisted in dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks at the facilities.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.    Thank you for continued commitment.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 3, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 12,554(1) total cases; 9,733 Recovered; 740 Hospitalized and 220 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (6,427 or 51%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 199 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 81 positive tests out of just over 5,100 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 923,023 negative test results.  There are 38 active cases in Washington County and 2,601 statewide.  Total US cases is 13,993,296 with total deaths of 274,577.  As of today the Province of New Brunswick has 520 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new positive results today.  Swabs are processed through December 1 collections. There are about 80 tests pending for collections.  The Swab and Send site collected 47 swabs today.   Walkthrough testing is available at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

The US CDC has changed its guidance regarding the length of time individuals who have been exposed to a person infected with COVID-19 have to quarantine.  Previously, the guidance said those who were close contacts of positive cases had to quarantine for 14 days from the date of their last exposure, regardless of whether they tested negative or not.  The updated guidance now says quarantine can end after ten days without a COVID-19 test if the person has reported no symptoms or after seven days with a negative test result if the person has reported no symptoms.

“I want to stress that we are sharing these options with public health agencies across the country so that they can determine how long quarantine periods should last in their jurisdictions based on local conditions and needs,” said Dr. Henry Walke, the incident manager for CDC’s COVID-19 response. “Everyone should follow the specific guidance from their local public health authorities about how long they should quarantine. People should still watch for symptoms during quarantine for a full 14 days after exposure, especially if quarantine is discontinued early.” Walke said the CDC made the changes in part to reduce the economic burden on those who have been exposed to an infected person. In addition, a shorter quarantine can reduce the burden on the public health system, particularly during a time of rising cases.

According to the U.S. CDC, there is still a risk that a person leaving quarantine early can infect another person. They calculate that risk between 1 percent and 12 percent for those who leave without a test at 10 days and between 5 percent and 10 percent for those who leave quarantine after 7 days with a negative test.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.    Thank you for continued commitment.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 2, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 12,208(1) total cases; 9,564 Recovered; 725 Hospitalized and 218 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (6,309 or 52%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 196 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 81 positive tests out of just over 5,100 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 911,278 negative test results.  There are 36 active cases in Washington County and 2,426 statewide.  Total US cases is 13,861,243 with total deaths of 272,479.  As of today the Province of New Brunswick has 514 confirmed cases.

CRH received 1 new positive result today.  Swabs from November 30 collections are partially processed. There are about 100 tests pending for collections.  The Swab and Send site collected 32 swabs today.   Walkthrough testing is available at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

While there has been much talk and speculation on the news that CDC guidelines for quarantine are changing, it has not occurred yet.  CRH will continue to follow CDC guidance for COVID-19.  Updates to policy/procedure will change when the CDC makes an official announcement.

The Red Cross blood drive in November collected 36 units and had 3 first time donors.   The five Blood Drives sponsored by CRH in 2020 collected 187 units for an average of 37.4 units per drive.  The goal of 35 units per drive was exceeded!    The next drive is January 20, 1-6 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus hall.  You can register for appointments online at www.redcross.org.

If you check off a symptom while completing your Employee Screening Form at the beginning of your shift, you MUST wait at the entrance before reporting to your work station/department.   The Infection Control nurse or the Nursing Service Manager will need to speak with you for further assessment.   Let the screener know you have a symptom to report.  They will take your temperature and have the nurse called to review your form and discuss your symptom(s).  All staff need to be really cautious of all possible symptoms of COVID-19 to prevent possible spread within our organization.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.    Thank you for continued commitment.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

December 1, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 11,976(1) total cases; 9,364 Recovered; 709 Hospitalized and 214 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (6,236 or 52%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 193 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 80 positive tests out of almost 5,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 897,947 negative test results.  There are 34 active cases in Washington County and 2,398 statewide.  Total US cases is 13,619,981 with total deaths of 269,348.  As of today the Province of New Brunswick has 508 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new test results today.  All but one swab is processed through November 25 collections. There are about 75 tests pending for collections.  The Swab and Send site collected 49 swabs today.   Walkthrough testing is available at 18 Palmer St, Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

In an open letter to the American public, the AHA, along with the American Medical Association and American Nurses Association, today affirmed their support for vaccines as a critical means for protecting individuals, communities and loved ones from COVID-19, the worst global health crisis in generations.   The organizations reaffirmed their long-standing commitment to the following guiding principles related to potential COVID-19 vaccines:

  • following the science through support of the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which COVID-19 vaccines are evaluated and may ultimately be authorized and recommended for use in the population;
  • protecting the public’s health and safety by establishing safe and effective processes for administering vaccines to all who are eligible and choose to get vaccinated; and
  • creating transparency by making available critical information about vaccines as it is released, including benefits and risks, while also working to share plans for vaccinating communities nationwide.

Additionally, the organizations reiterated their ongoing request that the public take three critical, scientifically proven steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19: wearing face masks, maintaining physical distancing and washing hands.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.    Thank you for continued commitment.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 30, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 11,757(1) total cases; 9,098 Recovered; 699 Hospitalized and 194 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (6,162 or 52%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 189 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 80 positive tests out of almost 5,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 892,850 negative test results.  There are 33 active cases in Washington County and 2,465 statewide.  Total US cases is 13,441,503 with total deaths of 267,306.  As of today the Province of New Brunswick has 501 confirmed cases.

CRH received no positive test results today.  Swabs are processed through November 24 collections. There are about 100 tests pending for collections.  The Swab and Send site collected 49 swabs today.   Walkthrough testing began today at the NEW LOCATION: 18 Palmer St.   The first day of this new format seemed to go fairly well.  Over this week we will continue to assess and adjust as needed.  Thank you to all of the staff helping to get this new location up and running and the new process developed.  It will help to ensure consistent testing access through the winter months.

Maine’s 7 day positivity rate continues to climb. We currently sit at 3.9% compared to 2.6% just a week ago.  The national rate is currently 9.6%.

It was announced today that Moderna is ready to apply to the FDA for authorization of its COVID-19 vaccine, just 10 days since Pfizer’s application was submitted.   Moderna claims an expanded data set showing the vaccine is 94.1% effective at preventing COVID-19 and 100% effective at preventing severe cases of the disease.  Pfizer’s data showed similar results.   The FDA is scheduled to meet with its advisory committee on December 10 to review Pfizer’s application and December 17 to review Moderna’s. If the FDA grants the expected vaccine emergency use authorization an advisory committee to the US CDC will make a recommendation about who should get the shots first. It is expected to be health care workers and nursing home residents.  Once the CDC recommendations are given, the vaccine can be given.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.    Thank you for continued commitment.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 27, 2020

In the State of Maine there are: 11,027(1) total cases; 8,800 Recovered; 687 Hospitalized and 190 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (5,957 or 53%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 189 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 80 positive tests out of almost 5,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 847,706 negative test results.  There are 35 active cases in Washington County and 2,275 statewide.  Total US cases is 12,907,333 with total deaths of 263,755.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 477 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new positives yesterday and no new test results today as the State CDC lab was closed for yesterday’s holiday.  Swabs are processed through November 23 collections. There are about 100 tests pending for collections from this week.   Please Note…The Swab and Send tent has been taken down.  Testing will be at the NEW LOCATION beginning Monday, November 30.  The Walk Through testing site is located at 18 Palmer St. Please share this info with community members. We are asking for patience as we work through this new process next week.

The State and the Nation continue to hit milestones and records with the surge of COVID-19 cases.  Yesterday was the 7th time in 10 days that new cases in Maine were over 200.   The Nation will hit the 13 million mark probably today for total cases.   During Wednesday’s CDC update Dr. Nirav Shah, CDC Director, spoke about negative results and how they can provide a false sense of security which leads people to not follow proper precautions. “The test tells you what was happening at the moment the sample was taken,” said Dr. Shah. “You could have been exposed the morning that you got your test or you could be exposed the day after you got your test done. All the more reason why we can’t let down our guard with the basics. Face coverings, physical distancing, avoiding crowds are just as important today as they were back in March.”  Negative tests can also be deceiving after a known exposure.  With the incubation period of COVID-19 the virus may not show until day 12, 13 or even 14 after the exposure. This is why even with a negative test after exposure it is imperative to continue the quarantine guidance.

For Friday’s Quirky COVID news:  The owner of a Frankfurt restaurant is staging a protest again Germany’s lockdown by filling his tables with a hundred stuffed toy pandas, a play on the word pandemic.

BE SURE YOU ARE WEARING YOUR MASK AND EYE PROTECTION  Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.    Thank you for continued commitment.   Have a great weekend.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 25, 2020

In the State of Maine 54 there are: 11,027(1) total cases; 8,592 Recovered; 678 Hospitalized and 190 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (5,864 or 53%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 187 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 80 positive tests out of almost 5,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 847,706 negative test results.  There are 38 active cases in Washington County and 2,245 statewide.  Total US cases is 12,715,888 with total deaths of 261,480.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 453 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new test results today.  Swabs are processed through November 20 collections. There are about 150 tests pending for collections from this week.  The Swab and Send tent collected 50 swabs today.    The Swab and Send tent has been taken down.  Testing will be at the NEW LOCATION beginning Monday, November 30.  The Walk Through testing site is located at 18 Palmer St. We are asking for patience as we work through this new process next week.

We received word this week that our application was approved by the Maine CDC for the Abbot BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 testing machine and supplies.  We hope to be able to utilize the system within 2-4 weeks, dependent on receiving all components, completed training, etc.   BinaxNOW is an antigen test and is most reliable and intended to be used on symptomatic individuals within the first seven days of onset of symptoms.  The Maine CDC requires patients receiving a positive result from BinaxNOW testing be directed to have a PCR test (what the Swab and Send currently collects for and sends to the CDC lab) completed for confirmation of the positive result.    The PCR test is the gold standard and is more sensitive in detecting the virus; however the results can take days to be completed which are where the benefit of the rapid test comes in.   The State is going to allow limited use of serial rapid testing for those that are CLOSE CONTACTS of a known positive who fall into one of three categories: healthcare, first responders (EMS, law enforcement, public safety), and education.  Serial testing of someone that falls into this category would allow the person to continue providing needed essential services at work during their quarantine period by testing each work day.  We will provide more updates as the process and procedure is solidified.

BE SURE YOU ARE WEARING YOUR MASK AND EYE PROTECTION  Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.

In celebration of Thanksgiving tomorrow, the Board of Directors, Trustees, Medical Staff, and Management wish to convey our appreciation for your continued dedication and hard work of putting our patients first. Needless to say, with the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 has been a very challenging year for many people, their families, businesses, schools, government, etc.  We all have much to be thankful for and Thanksgiving is a great time for reflection and thanking those around us for all they have done and continue to do to help others.

We thank you for considering your work at CRH a priority and appreciate all your efforts toward exceptional quality care provided to our community members, keeping our facility clean, the continuing improvements being made to make our organization financially viable and for making CRH the provider of choice in our region..

We wish all of you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving Day! Enjoy the turkey!

Thank you for continued commitment.

(Please note, I will not have a daily memo tomorrow but will resume on Friday!)

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 24, 2020

In the State of Maine 54 there are: 10,799(1) total cases; 8,232 Recovered; 662 Hospitalized and 189 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (5,779 or 54%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 181 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 80 positive tests out of almost 5,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 836,208 negative test results.  There are 42 active cases in Washington County and 2,378 statewide.  Total US cases is 12,518,916 with total deaths of 259,045.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 450 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new positive test result today.  Swabs are processed through November 20 collections. There are about 100 tests pending for collections from this week.  The Swab and Send tent collected 38 swabs today.   This week the Swab and Send tent will be open Monday – Wednesday, 8-10 a.m. due to the holiday week and preparations to move to an indoors walk through format beginning Monday, November 30.  We are asking for patience as we work through this new process next week.

Washington County’s first death was reported by the Maine CDC today.  Our condolences go out to the local family and friends.    A dozen people across five counties marked the grim milestone of the largest death toll increase to date.  A record high of 258 new cases were also reported by the Maine CDC.  This was the fifth time over the past 10 days that more than 200 new cases were reported.   The CDC continues to caution about family gatherings for the Thanksgiving holiday this week with the current widespread community transmission occurring throughout the state.

If you check off a symptom while completing your Employee Screening Form at the beginning of your shift, you MUST wait at the entrance before reporting to your work station/department.   The Infection Control nurse or the Nursing Service Manager will need to speak with you for further assessment.   Let the screener know you have a symptom to report.  They will take your temperature and have the nurse called to review your form and discuss your symptom(s).

Staff is reminded to complete the Post-Travel Questionnaire and Attestation and 7-Day Self-Monitoring Log if you have traveled outside of the Maine, VT, NH region.   You are required to track your symptoms daily and turn the forms into your Quality Management/Infection Control.   The Post Travel Assessment Policy can be found on policy stat, or see your Director or Shelly Bodkin, RN, in Infection Control.

BE SURE YOU ARE WEARING YOUR MASK AND EYE PROTECTION  Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Thank you for continued commitment.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 23, 2020

In the State of Maine 54 there are: 10,544(1) total cases; 7,986 Recovered; 647 Hospitalized and 177 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (5,688 or 54%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 178 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 80 positive tests out of almost 5,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 825,553 negative test results.  There are 47 active cases in Washington County and 2,381 statewide.  Total US cases is 12,349,443 with total deaths of 257,095.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 445 confirmed cases.

CRH received 1 positive test result today.  Swabs are processed through November 19 collections. There are about 100 tests pending for collections from this week.  The Swab and Send tent collected 58 swabs today.   This week the Swab and Send tent will be open Monday – Wednesday, 8-10 a.m. due to the holiday week and preparations to move to an indoors walk through format beginning Monday, November 30.  We are asking for patience as we work through this new process next week.   It may be slower than the drive thru process, especially initially as the process is fine tuned.  However in the long run this will expand the access to testing we are able to offer through the winter months.  The tent process is at risk of closure based on weather conditions so this walk through option will expand our ability to maintain testing through winter.  And after the rainy cold morning our staff had working outside today, the need for such an option is very evident!

The COVID-19 Swab and Send testing is moving to the hospital’s building on the corner of Franklin St and Palmer St. on Monday, November 30.  New signage will be in place to direct to the new testing location.    Initial check-in for testing will occur in the side parking lot of the Rehab Services/CRMS Surgical Services building.   Those that qualify for the walk through process will be brought inside the building one at a time (or one family unit at a time).   The walk through process is designed to maintain social distancing standards through registration, waiting and swabbing.  ALL who enter are REQUIRED to mask, just as they are currently required to do for the drive thru process.  Staff will don PPE appropriate to their function in the process and sterilizing/cleaning will be conducted.  There will be an alternate process for those who present for testing who are not mobile.

BE SURE YOU ARE WEARING YOUR MASK AND EYE PROTECTION  Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Thank you for continued commitment.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 20, 2020

In the State of Maine 54 there are: 9,958(1) total cases; 7,590 Recovered; 628 Hospitalized and 173 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (5,423 or 55%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 172 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 79 positive tests out of almost 5,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 795,936 negative test results.  There are 54 active cases in Washington County and 2,195 statewide.  Total US cases is 11,833,644 with total deaths of 253,769.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 401 confirmed cases.

CRH received no positive test results today.  Swabs are processed through November 17 collections. There are about 120 tests pending for collections from this week.  The Swab and Send tent collected 40 swabs today.   The tent is open Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

Yesterday the CDC recommended that Americans not travel next week for Thanksgiving after the nation has had an increase of one million COVID-19 cases in the last week.  CDC suggestions to maintain contact with family while being safe include hosting a virtual meal with friends and family via video calls.   Watch movies or play games with those that live in your household.  Safely prepare dishes and deliver them to family and neighbors in a way that does not involve contact with others (for example, leave them on the porch).   Participate in a gratitude activity, like writing down things you are grateful for and sharing with your friends and family.

With the spike in the use of medical masks and even gloves it is no surprise that disposal of them is starting to show as an issue.  Without proper disposal, an environmental disaster is upon us.  An initial concern, of course, is the potential risk of spreading coronavirus to those that might find and touch infected PPE.  Beyond that though is the littering risk to the environment and animals.  Animals can choke, become entangled or become sick from ingesting pieces of masks and gloves.  While the effects and memories of COVID-19 will definitely linger long after a vaccine has been created and given to the masses, we need to do all we can during the pandemic to try and alleviate the potential environmental ramifications that could be felt for years.  Be conscientious about how you discard your mask and gloves.  When you must use a disposable mask or gloves, be sure to discard of in a proper trash receptacle.  Don’t put disposable masks or gloves in the recycling bin either as they can get caught in the equipment and be a hazard to workers.  Take extra efforts so your masks don’t become litter.

BE SURE YOU ARE WEARING YOUR MASK AND EYE PROTECTION

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.  Thank you for continued commitment.  Have a great weekend!

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 19, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 9,734(1) total cases; 7,403 Recovered; 613 Hospitalized and 171 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (5,336 or 55%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 170 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 79 positive tests out of almost 5,000 swabs collected since March.  Maine has had 788,994 negative test results.  There are 59 active cases in Washington County and 2,160 statewide.  Total US cases is 11,647,930 with total deaths of 251,756.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 392 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new test results today.  Swabs are processed through November 16 collections. There are about 140 tests pending for collections from this week.  The Swab and Send tent collected 40 swabs today.   The tent is open Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

With Washington County reaching the High Community Transmission level according to CDC guidelines, we are now extending the use of eye protection to all staff, not just staff providing direct patient care.  This additional precaution is based on the assumption that with High Community Transmission the potential is increased to encounter an asymptomatic COVID-19 positive person who is not aware of their infection.   ALL STAFF SHOULD NOW WEAR EYE PROTECTION in addition to a face mask to ensure the eyes, nose and mouth are protected from respiratory secretions during patient/community member encounters.  Eye protection includes goggles, face shields, safety glasses and full-face respirators.  Shelly Bodkin, RN, Infection Control, is in the process of distributing eye protection to all staff.

  • Staff will receive eye protection to be used at work which is to be worn over glasses unless personal glasses have side protectors.
  • Staff providing direct patient care to a COVID-19 patient or suspect will continue with the current practice and procedures of eye protection utilizing safety goggles or face shields.
  • The eye protection provided to staff, NOT providing direct patient care to COVID-19 patients or suspects, is cleanable and reusable.
  • Eye protection can be left at work at the end of shift; however staff must maintain a social distance of 6 feet from patients/community members exiting and entering the building.
  • Please care and maintain your eye protection to safeguard it’s longevity to help us preserve our PPE levels.    To clean your eye protection: carefully wipe the inside followed by the outside using any hospital disinfectant/wipes and allow to air dry.   Clean water or alcohol swabs can be used to remove any residue.   Perform hand hygiene after cleaning or anytime you have touched your eye protection.
  • When your eye protection needs to be replaced for damage, clarity of vision or inability to be cleaned; see your Department Director.

Please remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, and limit your exposure to crowds.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 18, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 9,519(1) total cases; 7,229 Recovered; 600 Hospitalized and 170 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (5,251 or 55%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 159 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 79 positive tests.  There have been 776,159 negative test results in Maine.  There are 55 active cases in Washington County and 2,120 statewide.  Total US cases is 11,441,946 with total deaths of 249,733.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 388 confirmed cases.

CRH received 1 new positive test result today.  Swabs are processed through November 16 collections. There are about 100 tests pending for collections from this week.  The Swab and Send tent collected 40 swabs today.   The tent is open Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

Over 1,700 COVID-19 deaths were reported yesterday, the highest daily death report since May. So far this month Maine has reported 23 deaths, there were only 6 reported for all of last month.   As COVID-19 numbers continue to rise across the country, many States are putting measures in place to try to stem the increasing tide.  Some examples include: IA has limited indoor gatherings to 15 for family gatherings, receptions, and nonessential gatherings; MA residents are required to be home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. except for work or essential tasks and indoor dining must close at 9:30 p.m.; AK has limited travel between communities; WA has moved to outdoor dining only and prohibited indoor social gatherings with people from outside the home without quarantine or testing, OR has limited gatherings to 6 people and no indoor or outdoor dining – delivery and takeout only, CA, IL, MN, MI, NC, CT NM and many others have also announced new restrictions recently.

ALL staff is required to wear medical masks at ALL times, with only two exceptions:  when you are eating or if you are alone (single work area, restroom, etc).

Thank you for your continued commitment to our community and its health.  Remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community – wear your mask, watch your distance, wash your hands, limit your exposure to crowds.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 17, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 9,363(1) total cases; 7,025 Recovered; 589 Hospitalized and 166 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (5,190 or 55%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 156 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 78 positive tests.  There have been 765,672 negative test results in Maine.  There are 54 active cases in Washington County and 2,172 statewide.  Total US cases is 11,289,297 with total deaths of 248,001.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 379 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new test results today.  Swabs are processed through November 13 collections. There are over 100 tests pending for collections from this week.  The Swab and Send tent collected 59 swabs today.   The tent is open Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

Maine recorded the 2nd highest number of new cases today – 246, the highest was set last week at 248.   The seven day average of daily new cases rose to 190.3, compared to 91.1 two weeks ago.  Many states across the country have been experiencing a surge in cases as well and have begun putting additional restrictions in place.  During a call today on Maine Public’s radio program Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director, was asked whether the state is considering further restrictions. Although he didn’t rule anything out, he said much of the recent spread has been tied to smaller, household gatherings, which are harder to police.   “Those discussions are underway,” Shah said. “All options remain on the table.”  This week Massachusetts was removed from the list of States not requiring a quarantine or test within 72 hours of arrival.  The only States left on the exclusion list are now NH and VT.

ALL staff is required to wear medical masks at ALL times, with only two exceptions:  when you are eating or if you are alone (single work area, restroom, etc).

Thank you for your continued commitment to our community and its health.  Remember to use safety precautions for the protection of you, your family and your community.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 16, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 9,117(1) total cases; 6,830 Recovered; 577 Hospitalized and 165 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (5,084 or 56%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 139 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 78 positive tests.  There have been 757,030 negative test results in Maine.  There are 51 active cases in Washington County and 2,122 statewide.  Total US cases is 11,114,151 with total deaths of 246,758.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 375 confirmed cases.

CRH received 2 new positive test results over the weekend.  Swabs are processed through November 13 collections.  The Swab and Send tent collected 58 swabs today.   The tent is open Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.   The nation surpassed 11 million cases yesterday, just a week after hitting 10 million.

This weekend the Maine CDC announced 11 outbreak investigations and then 3 more today.  An outbreak is 3 or more cases within 14 days.  “As we’ve talked about, what we’ve been seeing for weeks now is that the ground has been seeded with ever-increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases and we’re now starting to see patches in the form of outbreaks emerge all across the state,” CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said. “Sadly that trend is one that may continue.”

Moderna announced today that initial data is showing its vaccine is nearly 95% effective.   The Monderna vaccine also has the additional benefit of only requiring refrigeration and not ultra-cold freezer temps that the Pfizer vaccine does, which makes it more accessible to obtain and store for many organizations in te rural areas like Maine.  “The early doses of both this vaccine from Moderna, as well as the previous vaccine we’ve discussed from Pfizer, will be made available first and foremost to healthcare workers and first responders in Maine,” Dr. Shah said. “We do that for two reasons. The first is that this is the core group who are taking care of ill patients across the state and we want to make sure we can keep that capacity high.”   Dr. Shah added, “The other reason we start with healthcare workers and first responders is because we’d also like to tap them to make sure they are part of our vaccine force. That’s one of the reasons why having them be first in line for the vaccine is critical.  But more generally speaking, these data show now that there is going to be a shift in the conversation from vaccines to vaccination. That’s what we at the Maine CDC have been planning and preparing for for months now, is the process of administering and distributing the vaccine.”  CRH has been taking part in the planning stage with the Maine CDC.

ALL staff is required to wear medical masks at ALL times, with only two exceptions:  when you are eating or if you are alone (single work area, restroom, etc).  With the continued positives within our community and the surrounding area, remember to report and monitor any symptoms.  Protect yourself if you are out in the community: wear your mask, wash your hands, watch your distance and avoid group indoor gatherings.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our community and its health.  Be safe.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 13, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 8,639(1) total cases; 6,428 Recovered; 566 Hospitalized and 162 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (4,855 or 56%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 139 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 76 positive tests.  There have been 735,872 negative test results in Maine.  There are 53 active cases in Washington County and 2,049 statewide.  Total US cases is 10,594,879 with total deaths of 242,811.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 356 confirmed cases.

CRH received 1 new positive test result today.  Swabs are processed through November 10 collections.  There are over 120 tests pending for collections from this week.   The Swab and Send tent collected 79 swabs today.   The tent is open Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

CRH has applied to the Maine DHHS to receive the Abbot BinaxNOW rapid point-of-care test.   The BinaxNOW rapid test is for testing individuals who HAVE symptoms, not those who are asymptomatic.  Positive test results will be followed up with a PCR test conducted at a lab.  In certain instances rapid testing is allowed to be used for the testing of asymptomatic healthcare workers, first responders and education staff who have been identified as a close contact.

Please remember ALL staff is required to wear medical masks at ALL times, with only two exceptions:  when you are eating or if you are alone (single work area, restroom, etc).  With the continued positives within our community and the surrounding area, remember to report and monitor any symptoms.  Protect yourself if you are out in the community: wear your mask, wash your hands, watch your distance and avoid group indoor gatherings.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our community and its health.  Be safe.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 12, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 8,395(1) total cases; 6,292 Recovered; 553 Hospitalized and 159 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (4,782 or 57%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 126 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 75 positive tests.  There have been 727,158 negative test results in Maine.  There are 42 active cases in Washington County and 1,944 statewide.  Total US cases is 10,488,531 with total deaths of 242,310.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 355 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new test results today.  Swabs are processed through November 9 collections.  There are over 140 tests pending for collections from this week.   The Swab and Send tent collected 38 swabs today.   The tent is open Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

Please remember ALL staff is required to wear medical masks at ALL times, with only two exceptions:  when you are eating or if you are alone (single work area, restroom, etc).  With the continued positives within our community and the surrounding area, remember to report and monitor any symptoms.  Protect yourself if you are out in the community: wear your mask, wash your hands, watch your distance and avoid group indoor gatherings.

The COVID-19 workgroup is continuing its work for a potential inside location for the harsher weather that we are heading towards.   Moving the testing inside brings new challenges for the group to work through, but they are hoping to have this option developed soon.    The number of collections possible within the 2 hour window will probably be reduced as it adds more time to the process, however the potential for more than just the typical storm closures is high otherwise.  The team is working hard to maintain as much access to testing through the winter months as possible.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our community and its health.  Be safe and follow precautions.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 11, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 8,202(1) total cases; 6,226 Recovered; 5454 Hospitalized and 158 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (4,721 or 58%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 122 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 75 positive tests.  There have been 706,408 negative test results in Maine.  There are 49 active cases in Washington County and 1,818 statewide.  Total US cases is 10,313,369 with total deaths of 240,265.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 355 confirmed cases.

CRH received 7 new positive test results today.  Swabs are processed through November 9 collections.  There are over 110 tests pending for collections from this week.   The Swab and Send tent collected 55 swabs today.   The tent is open Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

Two more CRH staff members have tested positive, one clinical and one non-clinical.   We are not certain at this time whether the transmission is related to the prior staff cases or from cases in the community.   More data will be gathered through the CDC contact tracing process with assistance from CRH Infection Control.  Please remember to report and monitor any symptoms.  Protect yourself if you are out in the community: wear your mask, wash your hands, watch your distance and avoid group indoor gatherings.

The CDC this week issued a study of 106,543 patients discharged after a COVID-19 hospitalization and found that 9% experienced at least one readmission to the same hospital within two months of discharge.  More than one readmission occurred in a small percentage of the group.    Those over 65 or with a chronic health condition were most likely to be readmitted.   The most common readmission conditions were diseases of the circulatory, digestive, or respiratory systems.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our community and its health.  Be safe and follow precautions.  Again, a special thank you to our CRH veterans on staff!

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 10, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 8,060(1) total cases; 6,100 Recovered; 538 Hospitalized and 156 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (4,674 or 58%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 117 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 68 positive tests.  There have been 706,408 negative test results in Maine.  There are 49 active cases in Washington County and 1,804 statewide.  Total US cases is 10,110,552 with total deaths of 238,251.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 355 confirmed cases.

CRH received 4 new positive test results today.  Swabs are processed through November 6.  There are over 100 tests pending for collections from this week.   The Swab and Send tent collected 57 swabs today.   The tent is open Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

Maine saw another triple digit increase in new cases today and the country saw a six figure increase for the 6th day in a row.   Yesterday two thirds of the states set records with the seven day rolling average for new cases.  The surge continues to keep increasing.   As you may have heard on the news, President-elect Joe Biden announced a new COVID-19 task force that he plans to put in place.

Coping with stress, anxiety and fear is a big issue for healthcare workers during this pandemic.  All of it can very easily consume you and your thoughts.    During high stress times like these it is very easy and common to lash out at our co-workers or family.  The CDC offers information on signs to watch for, tips for coping and information on where to seek assistance. Some of the coping tips shared include communicating with your peers and supervisors, identifying and accepting those things you have no control over, recognizing you are performing a crucial role and doing the best you can with the resources available, getting physically active when away from work, taking breaks from reading or watching or listening to updates on the pandemic, etc.

Continue your efforts in safe practices to curb the spread of COVID-19:  stay home if you have symptoms or were exposed, avoid small indoor gatherings, wear your mask, social distance when you are out and wash/sanitize your hands frequently.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our community and its health.  Be safe and follow precautions.  With Veteran’s Day tomorrow, I want to acknowledge those on our staff who are military veterans and thank them for their service to our country and hospital!

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 9, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 7,888(1) total cases; 6,036 Recovered; 532 Hospitalized and 153 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (4,609 or 58%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 114 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 64 positive tests.  There have been 700,467 negative test results in Maine.  There are 49 active cases in Washington County and 1699 statewide.  Total US cases is 10,044,002 with total deaths of 237,860.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 355 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new test results today.  Swabs are processed through November 5.  There are over 50 tests pending for collections from November 6.   The Swab and Send tent collected 62 swabs today.   The tent is open Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

Maine continues to see a surge in cases setting anther single day record with 204 new cases today. The State’s positivity rate and hospitalization rate has tripled over the last two weeks.   Community spread is rampant in our county, State and the nation.  The US hit another milestone today surpassing 10 million COVID-19 cases, 10 days after hitting the 9 million mark.  This is exponential spread with daily increases exceeding 100,000 nationwide. This is the largest surge in cases seen in the US so far.

Pfizer released an update claiming its vaccine is more than 90% effective. However it was cautioned that more information is needed on long term effectiveness and safety before the vaccine is eligible for approval for use.

Continue your efforts in safe practices to curb the spread of COVID-19:  stay home if you have symptoms or were exposed, avoid small indoor gatherings, wear your mask, social distance when you are out and wash/sanitize your hands frequently.

Some COVID-19 resources available in Maine:  The Maine Department of Health and Human Services created StrengthenME to help Mainers cope with the stress and uncertainty of the pandemic. The program offers a hotline that is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Anyone in need of assistance can call the hotline at 207-221-8198.  FrontLine WarmLine is the Maine Department of Health and Human Services phone line to help Mainers who are working on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak. The phone line will be staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day by calling 207-221-8196 or 866-367-4440 or by texting 898-211.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our community and its health.  Be safe and follow precautions!

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 6, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 7,444(1) total cases; 5,830 Recovered; 513 Hospitalized and 150 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (4,418 or 63%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 98 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 63 positive tests.  There have been 678,574 negative test results in Maine.  There are 41 active cases in Washington County and 1464 statewide.  Total US cases is 9,654,501 with total deaths of 235,416.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 350 confirmed cases.

CRH received 14 positive test results today.  All but one swab from collections on November 2nd and 3rd has been processed.  There are about 200 tests pending for collections from November 4th, 5th and today.   The Swab and Send tent collected 58 swabs today.

For the fourth day in a row, Maine set a record of new COVID-19 cases reported.  Today it was reported that 1,241 of the cases are healthcare workers.  The positivity rate has more than tripled in the last 2 weeks.  Contact tracers have reported a rise in the average number of close contacts has risen, which is fueling community transmission of the virus.  CDC Director Dr. Nara Shah reported that additional contact tracers are being added to “turn up the dial” on the efforts to combat the virus’ spread.  His advice to participate in efforts of controlling the spread was: get a flu shot, stay home if you have COVID-19 symptoms or were exposed, avoid small indoor gatherings, mask and social distance when you are out.  Also reported today was Washington County’s upgrade to yellow category by the Department of Education.  Yellow means elevated risk of COVID-19 spread. Schools should consider hybrid instructional models to try to limit the number of people in classrooms at the same time.

The Director of Pleasant Point Health Center reached out this week and provided us with a supply of media transport tubes used for the COVID-19 testing.   They had more than they would be able to use before they expire and offered to provide them to the Swab and Send tent.   At the rate we are going it won’t take long to use them up.  Thanks to PPHC staff for thinking of us!

Outside of COVID-19 activities, I would like to thank Erica Pike, FNP for her years of service to Calais Regional Hospital.  Today was her last day in the CRMS office.  We wish her the best with her new position at the local VA office.

Thank you for your continued commitment to our community and its health.  Be safe and follow precautions!

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 5, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 7,260 (1) total cases; 5,751 Recovered; 510 Hospitalized and 150 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (4,330 or 59%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 90 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 45 positive tests.  There have been 670,542 negative test results in Maine.  There are 37 active cases in Washington County and 1,359 statewide.  Total US cases is 9,499,459 with total deaths of 233,836.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 349 confirmed cases.

CRH received 4 positive test results today.   About half of swab collections for November 2nd have been processed.   There are over 200 tests pending for collections from November 2nd, 3rd, 4th and today.   The Swab and Send tent collected 58 swabs today.

I am happy to report most of our Covid-19 infected staff has been released from isolation by the CDC.  We are grateful their recovery was quick and they are able to rejoin us in taking care of our community.  The virus continues to spread quickly in our community, state and nation.  The state of Maine continues to hit records daily, 183 today,  on new cases and the US today announced a record of 100,000 new cases today.  Governor Mills has strengthened her mask mandate by requiring masks when you are not alone or at home.  Mask coverings are required in all social settings now even when social distancing is possible.

As caregivers during a high stress time it is important to take care of yourself as much as possible.      Remember to take care of yourself so you can continue to help us care for our community:

  • Take Care of Your Body– Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
  • Connect– Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a colleague, coworker or manager.. Maintain healthy relationships, and build a strong support system.
  • Take Breaks– Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try taking in deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy and help you relax.
  • Stay informed– When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Look to the reliable sources.  Ask and seek the information you need.
  • Avoid – Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to media coverage.
  • Ask for Help–Talk to a clergy member, counselor, or doctor, or contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.

Please continue your vigilance in safe practices to keep you, your family and your community healthy:  watch your distance, wear your mask and wash your hands!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 4, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 7,077 (1) total cases; 5,686 Recovered; 507 Hospitalized and 150 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (4,249 or 60%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 80 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 45 positive tests.  There have been 660,154 negative test results in Maine.  There are 32 active cases in Washington County and 1,241 statewide.  Total US cases is 9,441,473 with total deaths of 233,265.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 347 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new test results today.  Swabs collections through October 30 have been processed.  There are about 300 tests pending for collections from November 2nd, 3rd and today.   The Swab and Send tent collected 69 swabs today.   Since the beginning of the pandemic CRH staff  have collected 4,106 swabs.

The COVID-19 workgroup is currently reviewing options to try and ensure we can maintain testing access as we head into the heavy winter months.   Our outdoor set up could be at risk of shut down days as we currently operate.  While it has been an ideal setup to provide efficient testing of large numbers, winter weather could impact the service.  We will keep you updated on the progress.

During the CDC update today, Director Dr. Nirav Shaw announced CRH as an outbreak – which we were expecting.  An outbreak is defined as 3 cases within 14 days.  Our cases were contained to a small number and small area of the hospital, originating from the cases in the community.  There was no transmission between patients and staff.  Virus spread was contained to a few staff who work closely together in small areas and departments.  CRH followed CDC guidelines in responding.   Just as we have with all other outbreaks in our area, we had a zoom conference with multiple members of the CDC to review the response, tracking and current status.  The group was satisfied with our response measures and is available to us if we have further needs or questions.

At this point the transmission seems to have been contained with the measures we have taken.  However there are still some tests pending for family members who would be considered a secondary exposure if found positive and add to the CRH outbreak number.   While we were saddened that some of our own became infected with the Coronavirus, it goes to show the many cleaning procedures and precautions staff take protected others in our facility including staff, patients and visitors.

Please continue your vigilance in safe practices to keep you, your family and your community healthy:  watch your distance, wear your mask and wash your hands!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 3, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 6,926(1) total cases; 5,632 Recovered; 502 Hospitalized and 148 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (4,173 or 60%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 77 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 45 positive tests.  There have been 651,059 negative test results in Maine.  There are 35 active cases in Washington County and 1,146 statewide.  Total US cases is 9,344,717 with total deaths of 232,173.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 344 confirmed cases.

CRH received 5 new positive test results today.  Swabs collections through October 30 have been processed.  There are about 230 tests pending for collections from November 2nd and 3rd.   The Swab and Send tent collected 92 swabs today.

You may begin to see employees return who were confirmed positive for COVID-19.   Staff returning to work is cleared by the CDC and have met the CDC guidelines to be released from isolation.  The staff members are also followed by their Director and our Infection Control Department. Those who test positive for COVID-19 may be released from isolation/quarantine in LESS THAN 10 days since testing if:

they had symptoms prior to testing AND

their symptoms have improved AND

they are fever free without the use of medications.

Those who test positive and never develop symptoms will be released from isolation 10 days from test date as long as they continue to not have symptoms. COVID-19 positive people do not determine on their own when they are released from isolation, the Maine CDC will notify them they are released of isolation conditions.

Please continue your vigilance in safe practices to keep you, your family and your community healthy:  watch your distance, wear your mask and wash your hands!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

November 2, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 6,799(1) total cases; 5,588 Recovered; 495 Hospitalized and 148 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (4,115 or 61%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 72 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 40 positive tests.  There have been 647,623 negative test results in Maine.  There are 32 active cases in Washington County and 1,063 statewide.  Total US cases is 9,247,036 with total deaths of 231,227.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 344 confirmed cases.

CRH received no new test results today.  There are about 290 tests pending for collections from October 29, 30 and today.   The Swab and Send tent collected 144 swabs today.

Yesterday Governor Janet Mills responded to the surging cases of COVID-19 in the State.   She announced extended funding for response efforts by municipalities and tribes, postponed the start of indoor service for bars and tasting rooms, returned the indoor gathering limit to 50, and removed NY, NJ and CT from the exempt travel states.    Maine saw its highest new case count (103) on Friday since the pandemic started.  The 7-day average reached 1.06%, doubling over last week.   CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah stated that community transmission is occurring.   He encouraged Mainers to avoid large gatherings, social distance and maintain masking guidelines.   During today’s update, Dr. Shah also reported that 1,189 healthcare workers in the State have tested positive for COVID-19.  Of those, 1,080 have recovered and been released leaving 109 active cases among the State’s healthcare workers.

As mentioned last week, COVID-19 is still running through our community and is now within our organization.  It is extremely prudent for all staff members to take personal responsibility for ensuring proper PPE use and safety precautions occur while at work and appropriate protection measures are utilized when out of work as well.   At work all employees are now required to wear a medical mask and all staff must complete the enhanced screening form at the beginning of each shift.

Please continue your vigilance in safe practices to keep you, your family and your community healthy:  watch your distance, wear your mask and wash your hands!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

 

October 30, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 6,570(1) total cases; 5,495 Recovered; 486 Hospitalized and 146 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (4,009 or 61%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 61 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 40 positive tests.  There have been 626,890 negative test results in Maine.  There are 30 active cases in Washington County and 929 statewide.  Total US cases is 9,007,298 with total deaths of 229,141.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 342 confirmed cases.

CRH had 8 new positive test results today.  There are about 250 tests pending from collections on October 28, 29 and today.   The Swab and Send tent collected 59 swabs today.

There have been CRH staff members identified as COVID-19 positive this week. The cases are generally linked to non-clinical areas.  The hospital continues to follow CDC guidelines for our staff who have contact with a COVID-19 positive case and those who test positive.  Enhanced screening measures for staff were put in place earlier this week in response to the outbreak in the community.

Please be sure to arrive a few minutes early to allow time for the enhanced screening measures for staff.   The screening forms that employees use to attest each day regarding COVID-19 symptoms are at the screening station and were emailed to all staff.   You are free to take one home or print one to complete as you prepare to come in for your next shift.  Forms are to be completed or turned in to the screening station as you enter the facility.  Please also remember that ALL staff are to now wear MEDICAL masks and no longer wear cloth masks while on duty at the hospital.  Please follow proper masking procedures and wear the mask in ALL areas at ALL times unless taking a scheduled meal break or are alone in a private office, breakroom or bathroom.  It is imperative that this occurs to keep yourself protected, as well as our patients and community.

COVID-19 is still running through our community and is now within our organization.  It is extremely prudent for all staff members to take personal responsibility for ensuring proper PPE use and safety precautions occur while at work and appropriate protection measures are utilized when out of work as well.

Please continue your vigilance in safe practices to keep you, your family and your community healthy:  watch your distance, wear your mask and wash your hands!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

 

October 29, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 6,467(1) total cases; 5,462 Recovered; 483 Hospitalized and 146 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,956 or 61%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 60 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 32 positive tests.  There have been 613,880 negative test results in Maine.  There are 30 active cases in Washington County and 859 statewide.  Total US cases is 8,905,868 with total deaths of 228,324.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 341 confirmed cases.

CRH received has received no new test results today.  There are about 360 tests pending from collections from October 27, 28 and today.   The Swab and Send tent collected 85 swabs today.

Enhanced screening measures will be going into effect tomorrow for staff at the hospital and on Monday for staff at all of the other buildings on campus.  You may need to plan to arrive a little earlier for work to allow time for the new screening measures.   As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are monitoring the situation closely and following the guidance from the CDC.  In order to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and reduce the potential risk of exposure to our workforce, we decided to require each employee to provide additional screening information prior to entering your work location.   The information included in the screening form (see attached) is history of the primary COVID-19 symptoms.

As of today, we are asking all staff to wear MEDICAL masks and no longer wear cloth masks while on duty at the hospital.  Medical masks should be replaced when worn, wet or otherwise compromised.  When you are in need of a new mask, be sure to wear your cloth mask into the facility until you reach the mask inventory location so you are always protected at some level.  Please follow proper masking procedures and wear the mask in ALL areas at ALL times unless taking a scheduled meal break or are alone in a private office, breakroom or bathroom.  It is imperative that this occurs to keep yourself protected, as well as our patients and community.

Please continue your vigilance in safe practices to keep you, your family and your community healthy:  watch your distance, wear your mask and wash your hands!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 28, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 6,387(1) total cases; 5,441 Recovered; 484 Hospitalized and 146 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,927 or 61%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 57 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 32 positive tests.  There have been 605,348 negative test results in Maine.  There are 31 active cases in Washington County and 800 statewide.  Total US cases is 8,833,396 with total deaths of 227,320.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 337 confirmed cases.

CRH received 3 new positive test results today.  There are over 275 tests pending from collections this week, with 11 of those from Monday, October 26.    Today we collected 102 swabs for testing at the Swab and Go tent.

Enhanced screening measures for staff will be going into effect on Friday, October 30.   A memo with more information and instructions on the process will be sent to staff tomorrow.   You may need to plan to arrive a little earlier for work to allow time for the enhanced screening process.

If you have not reviewed the memo sent out last night on my behalf by DeeDee Travis regarding the CDC guidelines for essential healthcare workers, please do so as soon as possible.  It is imperative that all staff understand the process to follow when dealing with exposures and symptoms of COVID-19.

STAFF MUST WEAR MASKS.   Please follow proper masking procedures and policy.  It is imperative that this occurs to keep yourself protected, as well as our patients and community.

Today the Maine CDC reported a new case count of 76, the high from May was 78.  Of the new cases, 14 are among children with one as young as 8 months.   Maine’s 7 day positivity rate is now .75, up from .5 a week ago and .42 two weeks ago.  The national rate is 6.2%.  “Overall what is happening in Maine right now is sustained increasing levels of transmission in communities across our state,” CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said. “We know that because our testing volume has remained roughly the same at a time when our positivity rates and our hospitalization rates have been increasing.”   He said the spike we saw in May is different from what we are seeing now.   The cases in May were focused in congregate living settings (nursing homes, shelters, jails)

Dr. Shah explained, “Today, the numbers and the increases in cases that we are seeing are being driven by the fact that the virus is everywhere among us. In May we were all staying home, so we had very few close contacts. But today we’re out and about, which means that the virus can and has been hitching a ride and traveling farther and wider across the state, from home to home to home.”   The virus is affecting every part of the state, every age group, every county, and every walk of life.

Please continue your vigilance in safe practices to keep you, your family and your community healthy:  watch your distance, wear your mask and wash your hands!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 27, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 6,311(1) total cases; 5,399 Recovered; 479 Hospitalized and 146 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,898 or 62%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 48 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 29 positive tests (yesterday’s reporting inadvertently missed the results from over the weekend).  There have been 597,904 negative test results in Maine.  There are 22 active cases in Washington County and 766 statewide.  Total US cases is 8,740,824 with total deaths of 226,383.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 334 confirmed cases.

Since the beginning of the pandemic CRH has collected 3599 swabs, with 339 currently pending results.

Nine new positive results were received today. Since Monday, October 19 we have had 22 positive results through CRH testing, plus additional cases in the community have been identified through testing at other organizations.   Please remember positive cases that are not locals to Washington County are not included in our county data update by the Maine CDC.   Testing is completed for swabs collected at CRH through 10/23. There are over 330 tests pending from collections on 10/26 and 10/27.    Today we surpassed the record we hit yesterday by processing 173 swab collections at the Swab and Go tent.   Thank you once again to our staff for all of their work.

During his update today, CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah reported that today is the third day in a row that more than 50 new cases were reported in the State.   He also stated that he expects this trend to maintain and go higher as we was predicted for a second wave of cases.   On the national level, the US 7-day average of new cases has reached an all-time high.   Johns Hopkins University data shows the 7-day average near 69,000.   The next closest peak was in July at around 67,000 cases per day.

Please continue your vigilance in safe practices to keep you, your family and your community healthy:  watch your distance, wear your mask and wash your hands!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 26, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 6,254(1) total cases; 5,363 Recovered; 477 Hospitalized and 146 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,872 or 62%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 44 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 15 positive tests.  There have been 590,841 negative test results in Maine.  There are 21 active cases in Washington County and 745 statewide.  Total US cases is 8,669,894 with total deaths of 225,495.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 331 confirmed cases.

If you are a clinical staff member, please be sure to read the memo sent out earlier today by Kelly Ball, Chief of Clinical Operations.  It contains some very important information.  Between today and the weekend we have seen 8 additional positive cases in CRH patients.  Since last Monday (Oct 19) this brings the total positive results to 15, plus there are additional cases in the community that were identified through testing at other organizations.  Swabs are processed through 10/22 collections.  That leaves over 250 tests pending results.   Today we hit a new record processing 159 swabs at the Swab and Go tent.  Thank you to the team who stayed working an additional 45 minutes.  Regretfully we had to call it to a close at that point because we had reached max capacity for processing to meet the courier deadline, prepared supplies staffing, etc.   The team will be back at it in the morning.

Infection Control and Department Directors are fielding many questions regarding exposure and ability to continue working.   For healthcare personnel the CDC guidelines do allow for essential staff to continue working as long as they are asymptomatic, logging daily self-monitoring (see the self-monitoring policy in PolicyStat), wearing a mask and keeping a 6 foot distance as much as possible.   For staff that have had a possible exposure inside or outside of the facility, the use of an N95 mask is directed per CDC guidelines.  If you develop any symptoms, immediately notify your Director/NSM or Infection Control for guidance regarding quarantine recommendations.   According to the CDC, healthcare personnel that typically would meet quarantine requirements are excluded from this for work by meeting the previously mentioned recommendations.  However, please remember when you are not working to follow quarantine instructions.

As was mentioned at the beginning of the pandemic:  For those whose career path is the front lines of healthcare via direct patient care or an essential role to the function of healthcare, extra thought and steps are needed to ensure your family and household have a plan.   As a healthcare worker you play a vital role in the health and well-being of your community members.   When you know your family is safe and cared for, you will be able to turn your full attention to your mission.

Keep in mind:   You may be working in stressful conditions for extended periods of time or required to work extra shifts.

  • By being prepared at home your ability to do your job effectively and safely is greatly increased.
  • Prepare with your family ahead of time and you will reduce stress and uncertainty for everyone.
  • Create a household plan of action: talk with the people who need to be included in your plan; make contingency plans for those you care for – parents, children, pets; plan how to protect yourself and others if you or a household member becomes sick; stay in touch via phone or internet with those that may be alone, etc.

For more info on getting your home ready see the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/get-your-household-ready-for-COVID-19.html.   Thank you for your hard work and dedication in caring for your community’s health.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 23, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,989(1) total cases; 5,206 Recovered; 469 Hospitalized and 146 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,754 or 63%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 29 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 12 positive tests.  There have been 556,469 negative test results in Maine.  There are 10 active cases in Washington County and 637 statewide.  Total US cases is 8,253,557 with total deaths of 220,743.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 313 confirmed cases.

There are active cases in our community.  Please do your part to contain the transmission in our area by remaining vigilant with safety precautions.  Through masking, hand washing, social distancing and staying home with symptoms everyone can contribute to keeping our community healthy.   For anyone that wishes to be tested the Swab and Send is open Monday through Friday, 8-10 a.m.

One bright spot right now is the increase in the number of people who have received the flu shot.  Compared to last year, the US has seen flu shots increase from 12.6 million to 23.5 million between Aug and Oct year over year.  As long as this trend continues, it will hopefully help to avoid dealing with a dual issue of a high flu season on top of COVID-19.  Please be sure to get your flu shots and encourage your family, friends and neighbors as well.

For Friday’s Quirky COVID news:  A PPE-clad surgeon in India gave his COVID-19 patients — and the world — a reason to smile recently.   He took to entertaining COVID-19 patients with a little dance routine!

Thank you for your commitment to our community and its health.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 22, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 6,064(1) total cases; 5,269 Recovered; 473 Hospitalized and 146 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,780 or 62%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 29 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 12 positive tests.  There have been 569,694 negative test results in Maine.  There are 10 active cases in Washington County and 649 statewide.  Total US cases is 8,368,520 with total deaths of 222,577.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 322 confirmed cases.

The Swab and Go tent had no additional positive cases since yesterday’s reporting.  All but one result has been processed through the October 20 collections.   However, our understanding is there have been additional positive cases in the community that were tested at other locations.  Again, please continue to take safety precautions of wearing your mask, washing your hands and watching your distance!

An article from the University of California at San Francisco covered the topic of the science behind masks.  UCSF epidemiologist George Rutherford, MD and infectious disease specialist Peter Chin-Hong, MD were interviewed for the story.  Many have not been sold on the benefits of wearing masks for the prevention of COVID-19, which for some stems from the CDC’s flip flop on the guidance during the pandemic. However, what we need to remember is that COVID-19 was a new virus and with that must come patience to learn more about it and the best ways to combat and treat it.  The CDC began recommended mask use once it was determined that COVID-19 could be transmitted prior to symptoms being present and even if no symptoms ever presented.   According to the UCSF story, “studies have found that viral load peaks in the days before symptoms begin and that speaking is enough to expel virus-carrying droplets.”

With many months of the pandemic under our belt now, a look back at actual scenarios provides for a picture on whether masking is helping slow the transmission of COVID-19.   Information shared in the article supporting the science of masking included:

  • A recent study published in Health Affairs, comparing the COVID-19 growth rate before and after mask mandates in 15 states and the District of Columbia. The growth rates slowed down after the masking was initiated. The first five days after a mandate, the daily growth rate slowed by 0.9 percentage-points compared to the five days prior to the mandate; at three weeks, the daily growth rate had slowed by 2 percentage-points.
  • Another studylooked at coronavirus deaths across 198 countries and found that those with cultural norms or government policies favoring mask-wearing had lower death rates.
  • Two compelling case reports also suggest that masks can prevent transmission in high-risk scenarios, said Chin-Hong and Rutherford. In one case, a man flew from China to Toronto and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. He had a dry cough and wore a mask on the flight, and all 25 people closest to him on the flight tested negative for COVID-19. In another case two hair stylists in Missouri had close contact with 140 clients while sick with COVID-19. Everyone wore a mask and none of the clients tested positive.

The most basic thought gleamed from the UCSF article was summed up in the following quote:  “The concept is risk reduction rather than absolute prevention,” said Chin-Hong. “You don’t throw up your hands if you think a mask is not 100 percent effective. That’s silly. Nobody’s taking a cholesterol medicine because they’re going to prevent a heart attack 100 percent of the time, but you’re reducing your risk substantially.”

Thank you for your commitment to our community and its health.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 21, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 6,027(1) total cases; 5,244 Recovered; 470 Hospitalized and 146 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,765 or 62%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 23 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 12 positive tests.  There have been 563,159 negative test results in Maine.  There are 4 active cases in Washington County and 637 statewide.  Total US cases is 8,308,971 with total deaths of 221,628.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 319 confirmed cases.

The CRH Swab and Go has had 5 new positive tests.  These new cases within our community are an important reminder to remain vigilant to the practices that can keep your family, friends and community safe: wear a mask, wash hands often, social distance, and stay home when sick.   Additional community transmission can be contained.  We must not get complacent in the safety practices.   Modeling the behavior when you are out and about in the community and sharing factual information will benefit everyone.

A healthcare worker that is a close contact (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more while symptoms are present or within 48 hours of symptom onset) with a person who tests positive for COVID-19, may continue to work as long as they:  are not sick, monitor for symptoms, wear a mask, keep a 6 foot distance as much as possible, and follow quarantine guidelines outside of work for 14 days after last contact.  Report this information to your Director and Infection Control (ext 297).  You can also contact Shelly in Infection Control with any questions or concerns.

The CRH Swab and Go Tent is open Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.   The team desperately needs more volunteers to continue staffing for COVID-19 testing.   This does not require clinical staff only.  There is a high need for many roles that are not clinical in nature.  Training is quick and easy.  Contact Kelly Ball or Molly Fletcher in Administration to volunteer.

Thank you for your commitment to our community and its health.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 20, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,989(1) total cases; 5,206 Recovered; 469 Hospitalized and 146 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,754 or 63%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 21 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 7 positive tests.  There have been 556,469 negative test results in Maine.  There are 4 active cases in Washington County and 637 statewide.  Total US cases is 8,253,557 with total deaths of 220,743.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 313 confirmed cases.

Since pandemic started CRH has collected 2605 swabs for COVID-19 testing.  We currently have 91 pending results.

On Friday an article in Scientific American was released covering the State’s pandemic response via an interview with CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah.   The ability of Maine to maintain a low positivity rate that even other extremely rural States could not manage was praised.   Dr. Shah credits the people of Maine for believing in the science and most people doing what was asked of them.  He explained that his regular updates to the public follow three principles: never shy away from the truth, answer questions directly and acknowledge the statistics/numbers without overlooking the human element.   On measuring the State’s success, Dr. Shah shared the goal is not to eradicate the disease but to suppress the virus to put us in a favorable position for vaccination.  Click the link above to read the entire article: ‘How Straight Talk Helped One State Control COVID.’

A national study by the University of California in San Francisco and UCLA reported that symptoms for pregnant women with COVID-19 can be prolonged, lasting two months or longer for a quarter of the women who participated. In the largest study to date of COVID-19 among non-hospitalized pregnant women, researchers analyzed the clinical course and outcomes of 594 women who tested positive for the virus during pregnancy.  They found that the most common early symptoms for pregnant women were cough, sore throat, body aches, and fever. Half of the participants still had symptoms after 3 weeks and 25 percent had symptoms after 8 weeks, according to a press release on the study.

Thank you for your continued dedication and commitment.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 19, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,962(1) total cases; 5,175 Recovered; 469 Hospitalized and 146 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,748 or 63%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 21 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 7 positive tests.  There have been 551,906 negative test results in Maine.  There are 4 active cases in Washington County and 641 statewide.  Total US cases is 8,189,710 with total deaths of 219,950.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 313 confirmed cases.

The Maine Department of Education has moved York County schools to green designation. York County had been a hotspot for COVID-19 outbreaks, but has now seen a significant decline in new cases.   The county had been in yellow since early September, which means “elevated risk of COVID-19 spread.”  This now places all Maine school districts in the green category.  Under green designation, schools can elect to have classes five days per week and consider extracurricular activities.  Maine’s COVID-19 rate is among the lowest in the country, second only to Vermont.

A vaccine distribution plan for Maine was submitted to the federal government on Friday.  The plan prioritizes protecting health care workers and the elderly.   As long as supplies are available, the plan suggests that 80% of the State’s population could be vaccinated in 12 weeks.  Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, warned that finding a safe and effective vaccine won’t instantly make the virus go away.   “The day a vaccine is approved will not be the day COVID-19 comes to an end,” he said in a news conference Thursday. “It won’t make COVID-19 magically disappear overnight. Vaccines take time.”  A vaccine could be approved before year end, with distribution occurring a few months after.

Thank you for your commitment to our community and its health.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 16, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,816(1) total cases; 5,052 Recovered; 463 Hospitalized and 143 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,688 or 63%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 20 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 7 positive tests.  There have been 523,117 negative test results in Maine.  There are 3 active cases in Washington County and 621 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,891,674 with total deaths of 216,406.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 292 confirmed cases.

Please remember to wear your masks as policy dictates. When wearing your mask wear it appropriately. The community looks to us to model proper masking. I understand sometimes it can be difficult or an oversight, but we must remain vigilant in this practice.

COVID-19 cases in Maine have been on a steady rise since August, however are not near the highs hit back in May.   During the update earlier this week, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah cites the uptick to increased testing plus schools have started up and more people are heading to indoor activities.  He shared it is troubling that the State is finding an increasing number of people with positive COVID-19 tests have no known connection to other cases.  This is a concerning indicator that the virus has been spreading through general community transmission.  Dr. Shah said the State will continue to monitor trends and if necessary reevaluate the restrictions in place for the public.

Outside of COVID-19 activities, I would like to thank Ericka Marshall, FNP for many years of service to CRH.  Today was her last day in the CRMS office.  We wish her the best with her new position at the local VA office.

This week’s Quirky COVID News comes from right in our own back yard.   CBC news in Canada covered the story of a local wedding overcoming a family separated by the St. Croix River:   Lindsay Clowes and Alex Leckie said “I do” on the Canada-U.S. border over the weekend, proving not even COVID-19 travel restrictions can get in the way of a perfect wedding.   The couple married on a wharf along the St. Croix River in St. Stephen, N.B., so their family and friends across the river in Maine could share in the celebrations. “It was really neat because I could see, you know, Alex standing at the altar in front of me. I could see our family on the U.S. side, and then I could see some of my relatives in the boat just out from the wharf,” Clowes told CBC’s Maritime Noon on Tuesday.

It wasn’t the wedding they initially planned, but the newlyweds say they wouldn’t change a thing.  “There’s not an ounce of disappointment that we decided to go this route. It’s definitely a story that we will remember and be telling for years to come,” Clowes said.   Guests on the Maine side of the St. Croix River also watched a live stream of the ceremony.   Clowes was born in New Brunswick and grew up in Calais, Maine, where much of her family still lives.   The couple’s plan to hold a wedding not far from their home in Windsor, N.S., was derailed by COVID-19, and travel restrictions meant guests from the U.S. were barred from coming or would need to self-isolate for two weeks.    Clowes said she was determined to make a pandemic wedding happen even if it took a bit of planning and a lot of help.  For the full story, check out the CBC.ca website.

Thank you for your commitment to our community and its health.   Have a great weekend!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 15, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,816(1) total cases; 5,052 Recovered; 463 Hospitalized and 143 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,688 or 63%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 20 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 7 positive tests.  There have been 523,117 negative test results in Maine.  There are 3 active cases in Washington County and 621 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,891,674 with total deaths of 216,406.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 292 confirmed cases.

This week two high profile, late stage clinical trials were paused because of possible safety concerns:  Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine and Eli Lilly’s COVID-19 treatment drug.  Last month, AstraZeneca’s vaccine trial was paused after two volunteers became seriously ill.   While it is concerning that an adverse reaction has occurred, it is not rare for clinical trials.   Most importantly, these delays in general should be cause for applause and serve as evidence that researchers are not rushing and are following safety procedures.   The specific issues or cause for concern have not been released by the companies.

For those that watch the news reporting of the various rules and regulations in place around the country may notice a common theme:  the theme would be inconsistency.  From one State to another, sometimes from one County to another the rules can easily be different.   L. Scott Benson, a professor at the University of Utah’s Division of Public Health describes it by stating, “right now we really have 50 different experiments going on.”   It has been frustrating for many who travel and even more so for those responsible for trying to keep their respective regional areas healthy and safe.   However, Mr. Benson and many other public health experts say that a one-size-fits-all COVID-19 response is actually impractical. People in rural areas require different rules than those in dense, urban areas.  So, while many find it perplexing and challenging to navigate, it is expected to be the norm for quite a while.   If you are going to be traveling, you’ll need to do one more task outside of checking yelp reviews for restaurants, activities and places to stay – look up the COVID-19 rules and regulations for that location.

Thank you for your commitment to our community and its health.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 14, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,816(1) total cases; 5,052 Recovered; 463 Hospitalized and 143 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,688 or 63%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 20 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 7 positive tests.  There have been 523,117 negative test results in Maine.  There are 3 active cases in Washington County and 621 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,891,674 with total deaths of 216,406.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 292 confirmed cases.

Earlier this week, Puritan Medical Products of Guilford announced that a second facility will be developed in Pittsfield to expand the production of medical testing swabs used in COVID-19 testing.   The first facility was opened in Pittsfield earlier this summer.   Puritan Medical Products is one of the world’s two largest makers of COVID-19 testing swabs.   The new site is expected to produce 50 million swabs per month and create more than 200 jobs in Pittsfield.  The first swab manufacturing plant created 400 jobs and is currently producing 40 million swabs per month with an increase to 90 million swabs per month by mid-November.

“As we go into fall and into the winter, on doorstep of flu season, the possibility of two concurrent epidemics, one of COVID-19, the other of influenza, arriving in the State of Maine with remarkable force, is a possibility we cannot ignore,” Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC Director, said.  Flu shots are available.  Infection Control nurse Shelly Bodkin, RN, has been targeting front line staff first for employee vaccines, but all will have an opportunity to receive the vaccine.   As our supply came in batches, provider offices and front line staff were prioritized.  With the receipt of additional vaccine supply, other eligible groups can expect to hear from Shelly.  According to Dr. Shah, now is the window of opportunity to before flu season hits for everyone to do their part in reducing the risk of sickness.    The first cases of influenza have already been reported in the State.

It was suggested that these daily memos could be reduced to three times a week – possibly Monday, Wednesday, Friday.   I’m looking for feedback on keeping the updates daily or moving to three times a week.  Please send me a quick note and let me know your thoughts!

Thank you for your commitment to our community and its health.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 13, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,780(1) total cases; 5,006 Recovered; 463 Hospitalized and 143 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,676 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 20 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 7 positive tests.  There have been 517,018 negative test results in Maine.  There are 4 active cases in Washington County and 631 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,829,476 with total deaths of 215,476.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 284 confirmed cases.

As of today the State of Maine has entered into Stage 4 of Governor Mill’s Plan to Restart Maine’s Economy. Stage 4 increases limits on indoor seating to the lessor of 50 percent capacity or 100 people.  The items on the COVID-19 Prevention Checklists must also still be followed.  The checklist includes distancing, screening and heightened cleaning actions.  For non-seated indoor activities, such as physical activity in gyms, the limit remains at 50. The outdoor gathering limit remains at 100 people. Retailers remain subject to the occupancy limit of 5 people per 1,000 square feet of shopping space.   Stage 4 also anticipates a reopening date for indoor service for bars and tasting rooms of Monday, November 2, 2020. To reopen for indoor service, these establishments must abide by the newly-posted COVID-19 Prevention Checklist for seated food and drink service, which is an update to the restaurant checklist.

Governor Mills also expanded her Executive Order requiring certain businesses to enforce the State’s face covering requirement.  Over the summer the enforced masking was mandated only for select southern counties and larger cities.  It is now required statewide. The Governor also broadened the Order to make clear that places, such as private schools and local government buildings, must join restaurants, lodging, and retail establishments in having their employees and clients’ wear face coverings.

Businesses that violate the Governor’s Executive Orders are subject to enforcement, including possible fines and loss of licenses. To date, state officials have issued fines — in one instance nearly $20,000 — and more than two dozen imminent health hazard warnings to organizations that have not abided by the health and safety measures meant to protect their employees, customers and clients.

As of October 3, Maine ranks 2nd lowest in the nation in terms of positive cases; 4th lowest in the nation in terms of deaths; the lowest in terms of patients ever-hospitalized out of the 36 states reporting; and 9th highest in the percentage of people who have recovered out of the 45 states reporting.

Thank you for your commitment to our community and its health.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 12, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,752(1) total cases; 4,998 Recovered; 463 Hospitalized and 143 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,665 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 20 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 7 positive tests.  There have been 493,158 negative test results in Maine.  There are 4 active cases in Washington County and 611 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,792,816 with total deaths of 214,985.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 278 confirmed cases.

The COVID-19 Swab and Go tent collected 276 swabs last week.  To date 2973 swabs have been collected since the beginning of July.  The Swab and Go tent is open Monday to Friday, 8-10 a.m.

York County has seen outbreaks recently around sporting events and school outbreaks.  Up to 400 people may have been exposed by a referee participating in a Hockey tournament.   An elementary school in York County also announced a closure in the last few days due to an outbreak as well.

Talks over another COVI-19 relief package in Washington continue to stop and start without an agreement immediately in sight.  The impasse over this round of aid has been going on since mid-summer.  Reports state the two sides are apart by about $1 trillion dollars, so the likelihood of an agreement being reached very soon seems pretty slim.  Over the weekend President Trump called on Congress to pass standalone bills for a variety of issues, including airline relief and stimulus checks.

Thank you for your commitment to our community and its health.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 9, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,666(1) total cases; 4,933 Recovered; 460 Hospitalized and 143 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,640 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 20 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 7 positive tests.  There have been 471,407 negative test results in Maine.  There are 6 active cases in Washington County and 590 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,620,052 with total deaths of 213,016.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 225 confirmed cases.

As of Wednesday at 4 p.m, CRH has collected 2603 swab samples with 101 pending results since the beginning of the pandemic.   Al May, CDC Public Health Liaison sent me a message yesterday sharing the following thoughts:  “Thank you and your staff for providing testing and laboratory support to Woodland Pulp during the recent COVID-19 event. Maine CDC appreciates all the work your hospital does in supporting prevention efforts in the northern communities of Washington County.”   The Swab and Go testing tent continues to operate Monday – Friday, 8-10 a.m.

Last week Governor Janet Mills renewed Maine’s State of Emergency through October 29.   The DHHS Secretary also renewed the federal State of Emergency.   A Kaiser Health News report stated that a vaccine will not be the magic bullet to pull the world out of the pandemic.  Experts say masking and social distancing will be the norm for at least another year even with a vaccine.  The MHA shared that for most of human history, epidemics and pandemics burned themselves out in various ways.  In 2009, when the swine flu became a pandemic with 10 percent of the population eventually becoming infected, it was a vaccine six months in that ended the pandemic, ABC in Australia reported. The virus didn’t go away, but it became just another seasonal flu circulating because enough people had either caught it or been vaccinated for it.  To be sure, it takes a lot longer for a pandemic to end without a vaccine to hurry along herd immunity. The 1918 Spanish Influenza pandemic actually lasted until 1921 before it became another seasonal flu strain, after killing millions.

In this week’s Quirky COVID News:  Romanian villagers re-elected their mayor for a landslide unprecedented third term despite his death from COVID-19 complications 10 days prior.  His death came too late to remove his name from the ballot, but with news of his passing quickly sweeping the village of Deveselu, villagers went to the polling stations to re-elect him anyway on what would have been his 57th birthday.   After the victory election was announced with 66% of the vote, residents of the small village went to the mayor’s grave to light candles for him and pay their respects.

Thank you for your commitment to our community and its health.  Have a safe and healthy weekend!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 8, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,639(1) total cases; 4,900 Recovered; 459 Hospitalized and 142 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,632 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 20 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 7 positive tests.  There have been 471,407 negative test results in Maine.  There are 6 active cases in Washington County and 597 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,568,904 with total deaths of 212,420.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 225 confirmed cases.

As you have heard me discuss before, government “claw backs” are an issue we have to deal with frequently – changing the rules after the fact so that hospitals end up owing money back to the government.  I have mentioned in prior memos our extreme efforts to document all time and expenses that we have incurred relating to COVID-19 for this very reason.   It seems those worries are valid with last months’ notice by DHHS to redefine some of the reporting requirements for the Provider Relief Funding (PRF) provided as part of the CARES Act.   According to the American Hospital Association (AHA), “DHHS’s new definition will require many hospitals to return PRF funds based on a new formula and set of metrics that are simply unfair and unrealistic.”    DHHS has made targeted distributions of Provider Relief Fund payments to hospitals in rural areas, as well as to those that serve vulnerable communities.  The department recognized that these hospitals face unique challenges during the pandemic.   The AHA claims the new Provider Relief Fund reporting requirements “runs counter to this reasoning, and to the interest of their patients and communities.  This is especially true as those hospitals must work to rebuild their capacity, while continuing to remain in a constant state of readiness for any emergencies, particularly in regard to confronting the pandemic.”   The AHA is urging DHHS to walk back the definition of lost revenues to the one outlined in June.  This would prevent hospitals that need the federal aid from having to return payments they received during the public health emergency.   Reverting to the original definition would also avoid “an administrative and accounting disaster” for hospitals already struggling to contain and recover from the pandemic.    For some of AHA’s member hospitals the return amounts would be in the millions of dollars, some hospital’s returning as much as 30%-80% of the funding received to assist with responding to the pandemic.     Even with the funding received, it is estimated that Maine hospitals will incur a net LOSS of over $271 million dollars due to the pandemic.  Changing the rules and pulling funds back has the potential to put many rural hospitals at risk – CRH included.    Contacting our local lawmakers and encouraging them to ask for the June reporting requirements to stand is encouraged.

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 7, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,604(1) total cases; 4,880 Recovered; 459 Hospitalized and 142 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,612 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 20 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 7 positive tests.  There have been 471,407 negative test results in Maine.  There are 6 active cases in Washington County and 582 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,533,976 with total deaths of 211,492.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 222 confirmed cases.

All results have been received for the almost 700 swab samples collected last week by CRH at the hospital and onsite at Woodland Pulp with no additional positives. Of the 112 swab samples collected on Monday, only 5 are still pending – again NO additional positive results. The outbreak total remains at 19 people: 14 contractor employees, 2 Woodland Pulp employees and 3 household members. Of the 3 household members, one is linked to the outside contractor and two are linked to Woodland Pulp.  A precautionary retest has been requested for 14 Woodland Pulp employees that had the highest potential for contact with the positive cases. Of those, 2 results have been received as negative and 12 are pending results.

Please help to remind community members of their role in stopping the spread!   We need to continue to monitor for symptoms, especially if those that could have potentially had contact with a positive COVID-19 case. Maintaining efforts to follow guidelines and precautions with social distancing, masking, frequent hand washing and avoiding large gatherings as much as possible is also needed.

The federal government’s agreement with the manufacturer of Remdesivir ended on September 30, which means the government no longer makes allocations of the medication.   Hospitals can now purchase unrestricted amounts of Remdesivir directly from the manufacturer.    According to Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC Director, Maine’s supply of the medication has not yet been exhausted.

The US DHHS Resilience Working Group will present in a FREE AHA webinar on Thursday, October 15 at noon about: COVID-19 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Preservation Strategies.    The 45-minute session will provide a walkthrough of a new PPE Preservation Planning Toolkit developed to support hospitals and health systems in the planning and implementation of PPE preservation strategies.   Participants will learn and be able to ask questions in real-time on how to use the toolkit to determine types of PPE preservation strategies that can be implemented, estimates of the positive impacts of using those strategies on rates of PPE use, and increasing the duration that a given PPE supply can last in their organization.  Click on the link to register

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 6, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,565(1) total cases; 4,839 Recovered; 457 Hospitalized and 142 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,603 or 65%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 20 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 7 positive tests.  There have been 471,407 negative test results in Maine.  There are 6 active cases in Washington County and 584 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,488,372 with total deaths of 210,637.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 205 confirmed cases.

Out of the almost 700 swab samples collected last week by CRH at the hospital and onsite at Woodland Pulp, 98 are still pending results. Of the 98 pending results, only 3 are pending from collections at the mill on Thursday and Friday. There have been NO additional positives linked to this outbreak as of 1 p.m.   The outbreak total is at 19 people: 14 contractor employees, 2 Woodland Pulp employees and 3 household members. The household number was updated after additional information was received by the CDC yesterday. Of the 3 household members, one is linked to the outside contractor and two are linked to Woodland Pulp.   The CRH Swab and Go tent collected 67 swab samples this morning.

Last week the Maine CDC announced the expected arrival of 26,000 Abbott BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests.  It’s the first delivery of what is expected to be more of the test kits, which can give COVID-19 test results in as soon as 15 minutes.    The Maine CDC hasn’t decided how to deploy the rapid tests, but the U.S. DHHS is hoping that the tests will be used to support K-12 teachers and students, higher education, critical infrastructure and first responders.  Shah said the tests would likely be used for symptomatic individuals, but that state officials were still working out details on how to deploy the tests.   This is the test mentioned in the September 3 staff memo.  It is a small credit card sized test that does not require special equipment to get results.

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 5, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,545(1) total cases; 4,807 Recovered; 454 Hospitalized and 142 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,600 or 65%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 20 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 7 positive tests.  There have been 468,880 negative test results in Maine.  There are 6 active cases in Washington County and 596 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,447,363 with total deaths of 210,043.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 203 confirmed cases.

Update on the Woodland Pulp outbreak is:  The outbreak total is at 18 people:  11 contractor employees, 2 Woodland Pulp employees and 5 household members.   CRH collected about 700 swab samples last week.   This total includes the samples from the normal Swab and Go tent hours at CRH and the collections on site at the Woodland Pulp mill.    As of today at 1 p.m., CRH has had 7 positive results related to the outbreak from samples collected by CRH.   Of the testing last week, about 500 negative results have been received and the rest are still pending.   Over 100 additional swab samples were collected this morning at the CRH Swab and Go tent.

Please share this info with community members if the opportunity presents itself:

  • Everyone who has been tested at the CRH tent will receive a call with results. While we understand this wait can be frustrating, please have patience and refrain from calling the hospital to check for results.    Calls to check for results significantly delay the process, so please be patient.
  • The Swab and Go COVID-19 testing tent hours are 8-10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Please DO NOT come into the hospital to request a COVID-19 test during other hours.  Patients that are sick with symptoms and need emergency treatment should call 911 and/or do their best to call into the ED prior to arrival so that appropriate precautionary measures can be taken to protect other patients and Emergency personnel.   Those that simply want to receive a test due to possible exposure, with or without symptoms, must present at the tent area during operating hours.
  • If you are considered a close contact of a person who has tested positive for COVID-19, please follow CDC guidelines and quarantine. The CDC defines a close contact as being within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more with a confirmed COVID-19 case while symptoms were present or within 48 hours of symptom onset.   Quarantine means you must stay home.  Do not go to public places and do not have visitors in your home.

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 2, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,468(1) total cases; 4,741 Recovered; 452 Hospitalized and 142 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,563 or 65%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 18 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 5 positive tests.  There have been 451,561 negative test results in Maine.  There are 4 active cases in Washington County and 585 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,303,914 with total deaths of 208,304.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 200 confirmed cases.

Our Swab and Go COVID-19 testing tent processed 285 swabs at CRH this week plus 398 at the mill for a total of 683.  Our total since opening the tent at the beginning of July is 2686 swabs, with 5 positive tests.  We continue to operate the tent Monday through Friday 8 – 10 a.m.

The COVID-19 cases at Woodland Pulp was classified by the CDC as an outbreak as of yesterday.  The total number of positive cases so far is 14.   Our understanding is all but one of the cases is for out-of-area employees of the contractor.   We expect to start seeing results for the swabs collected yesterday to begin coming in Sunday to Monday.  A plan is in place for assistance in calling all of the patients with their results as quickly as possible.

The CRH and Woodland Pulp staff will continue to do their part in responding to this outbreak locally, as well as working with the CDC and others monitoring and responding to this situation.  Our community members can also contribute to the efforts during this time by remaining calm and supportive and taking actions to keep their family, friends and community healthy:

  • Stay home as much as you can and avoid non-essential gatherings
  • Practice the safety measures of washing your hands often, masking and social distancing

As has been the guidance since the pandemic began:  Those with symptoms of COVID-19, or who otherwise do not feel well, should not go out in public.   Some of the most common symptoms include cough, fever, shortness of breath, fatigue, and/or body aches.   A full list of symptoms can be found on the cdc.gov website.   Anyone who thinks they need a COVID-19 test, with or without symptoms, may get one under the State’s Standing Order.  A list of all Swab and Send sites available across the State can be found on the Keep Maine Healthy website.

This week has been another shining example of the treasure that our hospital and its staff are for this community.  Once again the employees have stepped up to provide needed services and going above and beyond in a time of need.    Thank you all for your commitment.  Stay safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

October 1, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,431(1) total cases; 4,704 Recovered; 451 Hospitalized and 142 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,544 or 65%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 16 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 437,431 negative test results in Maine.  There are 2 active cases in Washington County and 585 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,255,546 with total deaths of 207,331.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 200 confirmed cases.

The Swab and Go COVID-19 tent processed its highest number of collections during the normal operating hours this morning.  Much of the extra activity was spurred on by the cluster of positive cases with an outside vendor at the Woodland Pulp mill that was reported yesterday.   After closing for collections at 10 a.m. here, the team packed up and transported supplies and staff to Woodland Pulp to begin testing onsite there.  The swabbing was up and running shortly after 11 a.m. this morning.   As of approximately 3:00 p.m. 267 swabs have been collected so far and the team will be onsite through the change of shift at 6 p.m. tonight and returning again tomorrow around 4 p.m. and staying through the change of shift again. 

During today’s CDC update call, Dr. Nirav Shah recognized the efforts of Calais Regional Hospital for “stepping up and partnering with us to provide testing for everyone at Woodland Pulp.”  He further stated that it was because of the hospital’s efforts of already being on the ground as a Swab and Go site, quick and available testing was able to be mobilized and in place 24 hours after the positive cases were reported.  Thank you to all of the staff who have taken part in the meetings with the Mill and CDC and worked as staff for the mobile testing.   The hospital is proud to be able to serve our community in this manner, providing this needed community service quickly and efficiently so those potentially affected will have answers as soon as possible.

CRH assisted with coordinating a blood drive last week for the Red Cross.  The drive had a 75% show rate.  Collected units were 30: 24 whole blood and 6 power reds.   The last blood drive of the year will be Wednesday, November 18, 1-6 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Calais.    Appointments can be scheduled online at the redcross.org website.

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 30, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,391(1) total cases; 4,678 Recovered; 449 Hospitalized and 141 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,531 or 65%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 16 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 4 positive tests.  There have been 430,445 negative test results in Maine.  There are 2 active cases in Washington County and 572 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,216,828 with total deaths of 206,615.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 200 confirmed cases.

Since the beginning of the pandemic CRH has collected 1845 swabs, 55 are pending results and there have been 4 positives.

There have been 7 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 for an out of area mill contractor working at Woodland Pulp last week.  All of the positive cases were asymptomatic and none were from the area.  Upon notification of the positive cases, Woodland Pulp immediately contacted CRH to begin planning for testing their over 400 employees.  Today, staff from CRH and the mill devised a strategy to quickly provide testing onsite at Woodland Pulp via our COVID-19 Swab and Go testing team.   CRH will be at the mill tomorrow shortly after testing closes here.   There is an ongoing investigation on these positive cases by the CDC. CRH is participating on this team along with Woodland Pulp and other entities across the State.

With this positive exposure in our area, we urge everyone and the community to please not panic.  Remember the considerations for those who should get tested according to the CDC are:  those who have symptoms, people who have had close contact (within 6 feet for at least 15 minutes) with a confirmed case, or those referred by their healthcare provider or state health department.  Not everyone needs to be tested and conducting testing without cause could delay testing for someone who meets the criteria and possibly an unknown positive.  We encourage everyone to remain vigilant to the practices of wearing a mask, washing hands often, social distancing, staying home with symptoms and self-isolation to curb the potential spread of the virus and keep people healthy.   For more information on Coronavirus prevention and preparedness, please visit  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.   Please be a voice in our community calming fears and promoting vigilance and safety precautions.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 29, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,337(1) total cases; 4,629 Recovered; 447 Hospitalized and 141 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,504 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 16 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 425,767 negative test results in Maine.  There are 2 active cases in Washington County and 567 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,159,222 with total deaths of 205,345.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 200 confirmed cases.

The pandemic has had a large impact on the State’s budget already but is anticipated to have an impact of over a $1.4 billion shortfall by the end of 2023.  Many fear the rainy day fund is at risk of being depleted before this is over.  The rainy day fund is at $258 million currently.  For this year the Governor has pieced together a plan of spending freezes, federal money, re-appropriating left over funds from last year and other cost savings.  When State lawmakers reconvene in January and begin work on a new budget, it is very likely that some hard choices will have to be made.

Yesterday the COVID-19 statistics hit the somber milestone of one million deaths worldwide.  As the numbers continue to climb the push on development of a vaccine increases.  There are currently three vaccines at phase 3 trials and a fourth ready for phase 3 soon.  Regardless of the pressure for the development of the vaccine, “the data will determine the announcement (of a ready vaccine),” said infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.  He quantified that the announcement on a vaccine will not be based in any way on a political timeline.   According to Fauci, when the data is reviewed and looks to be good then the company will be given the go ahead to apply for an emergency use with the FDA or apply directly for licensure of the medication.  “So any decision about whether or not you can approve a vaccine is going to be very transparent,” Fauci said.  “If someone tries to make an end run, that’s going to be clearly obvious.”  He continues to say he’s “cautiously optimistic” there will be a vaccine by the end of the year.

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 28, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,300(1) total cases; 4,599 Recovered; 446 Hospitalized and 140 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,477 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 16 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 425,767 negative test results in Maine.  There are 2 active cases in Washington County and 561 statewide.  Total US cases is 7,128,774 with total deaths of 204,881.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 200 confirmed cases.

Over the weekend the US hit the milestone of 7 million COVID-19 cases.  The top three states with the largest case growth over the last week are Texas, California and Florida.     India has the title of world’s second largest COVID-19 outbreak with a tally of 6 million cases as of today, increasing 1 million cases over just the last two weeks.   The country is on pace to take the United States top spot as the world’s largest COVID-19 outbreak sometime next month.

Last week Google Maps started rolling out a new feature that will allow users to see critical information about COVID-19 cases in an area.   The new tool is  layer that can be activated in the Google Maps program overlaying the area the user is in or looking at with critical data to help users make decisions about where to go and what to do or not do.  The data for the layer is being pulled from multiple sources including Johns Hopkins, state and local health agencies, etc.    To activate the COVID-19 layer on the maps app, users simply tap on the layers button in the top right corner of the screen and select ‘COVID-19 info.’   The data will provide a 7 day average of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people for the area of the map being looked at, and a label that indicates whether the cases are trending up or down.  Color coding also helps to distinguish the density of new cases.

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 25, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,235(1) total cases; 4,507 Recovered; 442 Hospitalized and 140 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,443 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 16 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 402,382 negative test results in Maine.  There are 2 active cases in Washington County and 588 statewide.  Total US cases is 6,990,568 with total deaths of 203,047.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 200 confirmed cases.

On Wednesday, Governor Janet Mills announced additional funding support for school systems to assist with implementing health and safety protocols around COVID-19.  According to the Governor’s press release the funds will be distributed next week and allocations are based on a “equitable, weighted formula that the Maine Department of Education developed in collaboration with School Superintendents from across the State.”    The school systems will be required to submit how the funds are being spent within the constraints defined by Congress and submit receipts for approved expenditures.   Examples of permitted expenditures include substitute teachers or learning facilitators as well as other needs such as transportation and facility modifications to support physical distancing; cleaning supplies for buses or buildings; contract custodial, tutoring, and medical staffing; technology and ongoing connectivity needs; and professional development for teachers who must become fluent in hybrid and remote learning models in order to accommodate all students.

In this week’s Quirky COVID News:  The Helsinki Airport in Finland has started providing travelers the option passing the “sniff test” as part of the country’s COVID-19 efforts.   Instead of a traditional nose swab, two dogs trained to detect the virus sniff the sweat of arriving passengers.  It works like this: After passengers get their luggage from baggage claim, they can volunteer to wipe sweat from their neck and leave the swab in a box. A trainer then puts the box next to containers of other scents for one of the disease-sniffing dogs to sniff.

The process takes about a minute. If the dog gets a positive result from the neck sweat, the person is sent to the airport’s health center for a free virus test that might involve something more invasive than a cold nose.

Preliminary research suggests that the doggy sniff test might be more effective at detecting COVID-19 infections than the standard tests, University of Helsinki researcher Anna Hielm-Björkman told The Washington Post.  They “can also find [people] that are not yet positive but will become positive within a week,” Hielm-Björkman said of the dogs.  Only two dogs are currently working as disease detectors, but 14 others are being trained for the job, according to International Airport Review.  If the canine COVID-19 detectors prove their effectiveness, Hielm-Björkman said other virus-sniffing dogs could be deployed to nursing homes, schools and other places with crowds.   “You could open up society in another way if you had those dogs,” she said.

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 24, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,215(1) total cases; 4,478 Recovered; 442 Hospitalized and 140 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,434 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 16 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 402,382 negative test results in Maine.  There are 2 active cases in Washington County and 597 statewide.  Total US cases is 6,951,789 with total deaths of 202,247.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 199 confirmed cases.

Yesterday Governor Janet Mills announced that Massachusetts was added to the list of states whose residents are exempt from COVID-19 restrictions requiring visitors to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in Maine or have a negative test for the virus.  Massachusetts currently has a 0.7% positive rate, Maine is at 0.5%.  The other states exempt are New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut New Jersey and New York.

Yesterday the CDC announced $200 million is being awarded in CARES Act funds to help states prepare for distributing and administering the COVID-19 vaccine.   Maine was allotted just over $700,000 for this purpose.   Maine CDC has already begun planning for the distribution and held the 2nd weekly zoom call today.  CRH staff is participating in these calls and preparations with State.

On the vaccine front Johnson & Johnson announced yesterday that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate is moving to a global phase 3 clinical trial. The vaccine, which was developed by J&J subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies, will be administered to 60,000 volunteers at 215 clinical sites across three continents. The vaccine is believed to be the first COVID-19 candidate that would require just a single dose to spur immunity in patients.

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 23, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,171(1) total cases; 4,445 Recovered; 441 Hospitalized and 140 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,405 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 16 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 388,502 negative test results in Maine.  There are 2 active cases in Washington County and 586 statewide.  Total US cases is 6,913,046 with total deaths of 201,319.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 197 confirmed cases.

Since the beginning of the pandemic CRH has collected 1700 swab samples, with only 2 positives.  We currently have 36 tests pending results.

The U.S. CDC has reversed the guidance that was issued in August stating individuals exposed to patients with confirmed COVID-19 did not need to be tested if they had no symptoms.  This position was opposed by many other health officials, including Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah.  Dr. Shah and the Maine CDC continued to recommend testing for anyone exposed to a positive COVID-19 case.

On Friday, the US CDC issued a “clarification” saying, “Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 22, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,146(1) total cases; 4,407 Recovered; 442 Hospitalized and 140 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,391 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 377,931 negative test results in Maine.  There are 2 active cases in Washington County and 599 statewide.  Total US cases is 6,867,960 with total deaths of 200,182.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 196 confirmed cases.

Two new stats have been added to the data above:  Active cases for the county and the state.  Earlier today the US made the grim milestone of 200,000 deaths from COVID-19.  The US currently accounts for just over 20% of all confirmed COVID-19 deaths around the world despite having only  4% of the population.   The virus has disproportionately claimed people with underlying health conditions or senior citizens.

The state updated the Standing Order for COVID-19 testing at the Swab and Send sites today.  The update simply is that anyone in Maine, over the age of 12 months, who feels they need to be tested for the virus can be.   The state indicated it made the move to this expanded order due to capacity being available at the testing sites.   Turnaround time has gotten better on results over the last 7-10 days.  Results are typically available in 2-4 days now; down from a high of 5-7 plus days we were seeing recently.

Dr. Nirav Shah announced the Maine CDC is investigating several outbreaks in York County.  One is at the Sanford High School where 12 cases have been detected.  The high school has had to switch to online learning.   This is the first outbreak for a public school so far.   There were reports of possible gatherings outside of school (neighborhood football game and a seniors early morning gathering) that most of the cases may be linked to.

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 21, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,106(1) total cases; 4,384 Recovered; 440 Hospitalized and 140 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,361 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 376,705 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,819,651 with total deaths of 199,606.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 196 confirmed cases.

The Maine CDC is leading the effort to coordinate COVID-19 vaccine distribution within the State.  Staff from CRH is taking part in the planning via weekly online meetings that began last Thursday.   These efforts are beginning now to ensure the necessary components are in place prior to the release of a vaccine.    The U.S. DHHS and Department of Defense (DoD) released documents outlining the Administration’s strategy to deliver COVID-19 vaccine doses to the public.  The documents, developed by DHHS in coordination with DoD and the US CDC, provide a strategic distribution overview along with an interim playbook for state, tribal, territorial, and local public health programs and their partners on how to plan and operationalize a vaccination response to COVID-19 within their respective jurisdictions.  The final decision on the prioritization groups for the vaccine has not been released as that decision will not be made until closer to its release.

More than half of US States are reporting an increase in cases last week compared to the week prior.   Wisconsin, Idaho, South Dakota, Iowa and Kansas are among the states reporting the highest increase, along with a test positivity rate above 15%.  Maine’s positivity rate for the previous 14 days is 0.5% and the National positivity rate is 5%.

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 18, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 5,005(1) total cases; 4,335 Recovered; 437 Hospitalized and 138 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,300 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 367,021 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,696,621 with total deaths of 198,114.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 194 confirmed cases.

The State hit the 5,000 case mark as of reporting today.  On the national level, we are sadly heading toward the 200,000 death milestone probably within the week.   Our Swab and Go COVID-19 testing tent processed 118 swabs this week.   Our total since opening the tent at the beginning of July is 1263 swabs, still holding at 2 positives.  We continue to operate the tent Monday through Friday 8 – 10 a.m.

We are helping to coordinate the Red Cross Blood Drive next week on Wednesday, September 23.  The drive runs 1-6 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Calais.  There are currently only two open slots, however if someone cancels (which happens on drive day sometimes) slots can open up last minute.   Sign up to donate is on the redcross.org website.   No walk-ins are being accepted.

The first criminal jury trial since March was scheduled to begin this week in Maine.  However, the case had to be postponed because the child of a key witness developed symptoms of COVID-19.  During a hearing on Monday, the judge decided to move this case out to Spring.   Two other trials are currently on the schedule for next week.

For Friday’s Quirky COVID News:  The Inn at Little Washington restaurant in Virginia, started seated mannequins at empty tables to help make the restaurant feel more lively while still allowing patrons to dine-in at mandated social distances.   Needless to say, no worries about your table neighbor eavesdropping on your conversation!

Thank you for your continued service and dedication to our community.   Have a great weekend!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 17, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,962(1) total cases; 4,317 Recovered; 436 Hospitalized and 138 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,288 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 354,029 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,662,256 with total deaths of 197,397.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 194 confirmed cases.

Please remember to continue to wear your masks in the public areas of the hospital.  Masks should fully cover from above your mouth to below your chin.  When talking with other staff or visitors keep your mask on and maintain proper distancing. 

Halifax, Canada based Sona Nanotech is one of two companies that has developed a rapid, point of care diagnostic COVID-19 test that can be used at home without the use of a lab or equipment to read results.   Test results are provided within 15 minutes.    The company is submitted data to both the US FDA and Health Canada for emergency use authorization approvals.  A rapid, at-home test could help reduce testing delays and allow people to self-monitor and isolate when necessary.

Thank you for your service and dedication in caring for our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 16, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,941(1) total cases; 4,307 Recovered; 433 Hospitalized and 138 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,278 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 344,799 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,616,458 with total deaths of 196,436.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 194 confirmed cases.

A recent outbreak of COVID-19 at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish was discovered not through random testing of students, but through testing wastewater. Nine cases were found before the students ever developed symptoms.   The virus can shed into an infected person’s stool days before symptoms develop.  Saint Joseph’s College, and many other schools, is using that lag time to their advantage.  The school conducts campus wide testing from a sewage sample twice a week.   If the testing shows positive they next test at the building level, then move to individual testing of those living in the building or frequenting it.

A CDC study revealed that adults with positive COVID-19 test results were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at restaurants within 14 days of developing symptoms compared with those whose test results were negative. A visit to on-site eating and drinking establishments was a clear defining factor between patients with positive test results and those without. “Reports of exposures in restaurants have been linked to air circulation,” the study reported. “Direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance.”

Thank you for your service and dedication in caring for our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 15, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,918(1) total cases; 4,280 Recovered; 432 Hospitalized and 137 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,262 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.  Since the beginning of the pandemic, CHR has collected 1542 swabs for testing, has 21 results pending and has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 336,385 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,555,408 with total deaths of 194,547.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 194 confirmed cases.

The Maine Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory (HETL) recently began the process to launch an Electronic Test Ordering and Reporting portal (eTOR) to automate ordering and reporting for the COVID-19 tests.  Kudos to Laura Chadwick in the CRH Laboratory for working diligently to develop procedures and train staff in utilizing the portal.  Taking part in the eTOR speeds up the testing process once the samples arrive at the State lab as CRH staff will have already entered the patient information directly into the Maine HETL system before the samples arrive at the lab.   The results are also interfaced with the eTOR so there is quicker access to the results.  Previously, we had to wait for the results to be faxed back to CRH.   The eTOR also allows for the results to be securely emailed in a one step process.   The new system is a bit more time consuming on the collection side, however it is a good change and great improvement for our patients.

A new CDC study is revealing the extent to which adults are bypassing medical care because of their COVID-19-related concerns. According to the study, 41% of U.S. adults delayed or avoided medical care as of June 30. This includes urgent or emergency care (12%) and routine care (32%). The trend was more prevalent among unpaid caregivers for adults, individuals with underlying medical conditions, Black adults, Hispanic adults, young adults, and individuals with disabilities. The American Hospital Association has warned that such deferrals are putting lives at risk unnecessarily during the COVID-19 public health emergency and urges patients to seek necessary care.

Thank you for your service and dedication in caring for our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 14, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,903(1) total cases; 4,237 Recovered; 431 Hospitalized and 136 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,253 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 336,385 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,535,105 with total deaths of 194,252.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 194 confirmed cases.

The World Health Organization reported a record one day increase in worldwide COVID-19 cases yesterday with an additional 307,930 cases in 24 hours.  The previous highest recorded day was on September 6 with 306,857 new cases. India (94,372), the United States (45,523) and Brazil (43,718) contributed the most new cases to that total the WHO reported.

Israel is set to become the first country to bring back lockdown measures.  Beginning Friday, the home lockdown will activate for three weeks in an effort to slow down COVID-19 spread after the country has had a surge of new cases.    The country’s lockdown requirements include staying within about 500 yards of home, closing schools and shopping malls, limiting outdoor gatherings to no more than 20 people and indoor gatherings limited to 10.  The lockdown will be through the country’s holiday season which runs September 18 through October 9.

Thank you for your service and dedication in caring for our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 11, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,548(1) total cases; 4,191 Recovered; 432 Hospitalized and 134 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,185 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 322,693 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,408,332 with total deaths of 192,064.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 193 confirmed cases.

Our Swab and Go COVID-19 testing tent processed 113 swabs this week.   Our total since opening the tent at the beginning of July is 1145 swabs, still holding at 2 positives.  We continue to operate the tent Monday through Friday 8 – 10 a.m.   Contact Kelly Ball if you are interested in helping out at the tent.

This week the Maine Principals Association issued its revised guidance for high school sports following Governor’s Mills lack of support for the initial ruling released a few weeks ago.  The updated plan approves soccer, field hockey, cross country and golf to hold a Fall season.  Football and volleyball have been pushed to Spring.   Between this week and next all our local schools will be back in session.  Students are returning to a very different experience with live versus online options, masking requirements and a heightened emphasis on safety precautions for COVID-19.  While it is probably a relief for many parents and students to return to some normalcy and have access to activities outside of the home, please keep reminding your students to protect themselves and to stay healthy and safe.

For Friday’s Quirky COVID News:  An app developed by Japanese firm Yamaha has allowed fans to remotely cheer (or boo) players from home, played through the stadium speakers so that players can feel the energy of the online crowd.  The option to heckle the refs is not yet available though.

As the nation observes the 9/11 attacks today, please take the time to honor and remember those that lost or gave their lives on this date in history.  Nineteen years later, our country once again finds itself with our frontline medical staff and first responder heroes rising to the challenge of a national crisis.    Thank you for your service and dedication in caring for our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 10, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,760(1) total cases; 4,153 Recovered; 431 Hospitalized and 134 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,165 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 316,638 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,377,540 with total deaths of 191,360.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 193 confirmed cases.

The proposal on how to offset Maine’s over $500 million loss in revenue due to the pandemic has been released.  The plan includes hiring freezes, delayed technology upgrades, reductions to existing or future contracts, and cancelled conferences, projects and travel. Steps also included to close the revenue gap were use of Cares Act funds to offset allowable Medicaid costs, reallocating unspent funds from prior fiscal year, federal funding use for public health and safety programs and a transfer of increased state liquor sales tax receipts to the general fund.   The plan reduces spending by over $250 million but avoids deep program cuts and layoffs.   Congress has another pandemic relief aid bill, but the House and Senate haven’t come to an agreement as of yet.

Last week a report released by the CDC showed that more hospital workers may have been infected with COVID-19 that previously realized.  In a study of over 3,000 workers between April and June, it was found that 6% tested positive for antibodies – indicating they had a COVID-19 infection.  Of those testing positive for antibodies, only 31% had had a positive test and 29% reported they had no symptoms of the virus.

Thank you for your service and dedication in caring for our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 9, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,734(1) total cases; 4,135 Recovered; 429 Hospitalized and 134 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,149 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.  Since the beginning of the beginning of the pandemic CRH has collected 1,431 swab samples. We currently have 44 pending results and have had 2 positive tests.  There have been 312,475 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,334,158 with total deaths of 189,972.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 192 confirmed cases.

Last week the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee released a draft plan for allocating and distributing a coronavirus vaccine.  Approved vaccines are expected to be in limited supply initially making a staged allocation plan necessary.   The proposed plan included four phases for vaccine distribution.

In the first phase, vaccines would go to first responders, high-risk workers in health care facilities as well as people of all ages with conditions that put them at significantly higher risk of bad outcomes and older adults living in dense settings.  In the second phase the vaccine would be distributed to critical risk workers — workers who are both in industries essential to the functioning of society and at substantially high risk of exposure as well as teachers and school staff.  The second phase would also include people of all ages with conditions that put them at moderately higher risk; all older adults not included in Phase 1; people in homeless shelters or group homes for individuals with physical or mental disabilities or in recovery; and people in prisons, jails, detention centers, and similar facilities, and staff who work there.

Phase one and two combined would cover approximately 45% to 50% of the US population, the report notes.  Phase three would include young adults; children; and workers in industries essential to the functioning of society and at increased risk of exposure who were not included in Phases 1 or 2.  And phase four would include everyone else.  Public comment was accepted through last week on the recommendations.  The final report and plan will be released later this Fall.

Thank you for your service and dedication in caring for our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 8, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,713(1) total cases; 4,086 Recovered; 429 Hospitalized and 134 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,134 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 305,445 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,312,341 with total deaths of 189,366.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 192 confirmed cases.

The Swab and Go COVID-19 testing tent collected 144 swabs last week.  We crested the 1,000 marker last week as well with our total collected since the tent opened in early July reaching 1067.  We have still only seen 2 positive cases.   Over 300,000 tests have been conducted in the State since the beginning of the pandemic.  Maine is running at 1.97% for a positivity rate and the State’s cases per 10,000 population is 2.47 as of the end of last month.

Help is still needed with staffing the testing tent, clinical and non-clinical staff is utilized.  Send a message to Kelly Ball if you are available to assist.   The Swab and Go Tent operates Monday through Friday, 8-10 a.m.  Currently the State CDC Lab is still running about a 3-5 day turn around for results.

Thank you for your service and dedication in caring for our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 4, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,632(1) total cases; 4,006 Recovered; 423 Hospitalized and 134 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,083 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 289,314 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,151,391 with total deaths of 186,806.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 192 confirmed cases.

My apologies for a typo error in yesterday’s memo on the number of deaths. I’ve made the correction. I do not have an update on the Swab and Go for this week or in total and will report on those numbers early next week but do know that we are very close to 1,000 tests performed. We will continue to operate the Swab n Go tent Monday through Friday, 8 – 10 a.m.   note…The tent will be open on Labor Day!    

Please see the graph showing volume trends from prior to the pandemic through the month of July.  While we are seeing an upward trend in volumes, we still have not returned to normal volume levels.  In addition to volume concerns is the issue of supply costs being driven up due to the pandemic as well.

A second person linked to the COVID-19 outbreak stemming from a wedding in Millinocket has died, and the number of infections among members of a Sanford church, whose pastor performed the marriage, has doubled. Cases at the Calvary Baptist Church increased from five (5) to ten (10) on Thursday and state officials are working with the church’s leaders to limit the spread. The outbreak at the York County Jail, which began after a staff member attended the wedding in Millinocket, has been revised downward to 72 confirmed cases. Even so, the outbreak has prompted broader concerns about community spread in York County.

The importance of knowing the incubation period.

Understanding the incubation period is very important for health authorities as it allows them to introduce more effective quarantine systems for people suspected of carrying a virus, as a way of controlling and hopefully preventing the spread of the virus.

For comparison, the incubation period for the common flu (seasonal influenza) is typically around 2 days. Incubation period for other coronaviruses: SARS 2-7 days; MERS 5 days typically (range 2-14 days).

Virus Incubation Period
(typical cases)
Novel Coronavirus
(COVID-19)
2-14 or 0-24 days *
SARS 2-7 days,
as long as 10 days
MERS 5 days (range: 2-14)
Swine Flu 1-4 days,
as long as 7 days
Seasonal Flu 2 days (1-4 range)

 

For Friday’s Quirky COVID News:  Hershey reported a drastic drop in sales of breath mints and gum during the lockdown timeframe.  I guess people no longer had to worry about bad breath with fewer in-person social gatherings!

Thank you for your service and dedication in caring for our community. Enjoy your holiday weekend and please be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 3, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,548(1) total cases; 3,945 Recovered; 421 Hospitalized and 132 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,037 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 271,428 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,045,064 with total deaths of 183,870.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 191 confirmed cases.

Last week the FDA granted an Emergency Use Authorization to a new rapid antigen test for COVID-19 called the BinaxNOW test by Abbot Laboratories.  If the test holds up to all it is claimed to be, it has the potential to massively scale up access to testing, but hurdles remain in achieving widespread, frequent COVID-19 testing.  The credit-card-sized test detects a specific viral protein from COVID-19. It costs $5 and doesn’t require a lab or a machine for processing.  A health care worker or technician would swab for a sample from less than 1 inch inside the nostril and then combine it with a few drops of chemicals inside the test card. Within 15 minutes, the test strip shows a positive or negative result. The test is also paired with an app that produces a digital code that can be scanned to show proof of the test result.

One drawback is the test is currently only authorized for people with COVID-19 symptoms.  This is an obstacle because an estimated 40% of all COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic and these people likely don’t know that they’re contagious. To maximize the effectiveness of any COVID-19 screening program, it is important to test people whether they have symptoms or not.   Health officials don’t yet know how accurate the test is when performed on asymptomatic people.  The potential of the BinaxNOW test to be inexpensive, rapid, able to be mass-produced and easy to use outside a lab makes it a promising candidate for widespread screening.

Thank you for your service and dedication in caring for our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 2, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,548(1) total cases; 3,978 Recovered; 423 Hospitalized and 133 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,047 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 275,717 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,082,260 with total deaths of 184,910.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 192 confirmed cases.

Governor Mills has extended the State of Emergency for 30 more days.  This is the Governor’s sixth extension, which can only be issued in 30 day increments per Maine law.

Researchers and clinicians at the University of North Carolina created the Heroes Health Initiative in partnership with Google Cloud and volunteers from across Alphabet. The Heroes Health app is available free of charge through Google Play and Apple’s App Store to any healthcare worker in the United States, with additional features for healthcare institutions that want to deploy it across their organizations.    The app delivers weekly 5-10 minute mental health self-assessments and displays symptom summary reports and trends over time.  It also provides links to immediate support and mental health resources, emphasizing services that are free or low cost to healthcare workers.

In other Maine health related news:  The Maine CDC has identified a case of acute hepatitis A virus infection in a Saco, Maine food service worker. The case handled food while infectious from August 5, through August 21. While this employee was not in charge of preparing food, this employee had access to food in the kitchen.  Maine CDC is recommending the hepatitis vaccine out of caution for anyone who may have eaten food prepared at Saco House of Pizza between August 18 and August 21.  The vaccine can be received no later than 14 days after the last exposure.  Anyone who visited the restaurant between August 5 and August 17 is outside the window for the prophylaxis but are advised to watch for symptoms and seek medical attention should they develop symptoms.

Thank you for your service and dedication in caring for our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

September 1, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,548(1) total cases; 3,945 Recovered; 421 Hospitalized and 132 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,037 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   Since the beginning of the pandemic, CRH has collected 1297 swabs for testing, has 95 results pending and has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 271,428 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,045,064 with total deaths of 183,870.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 191 confirmed cases.

The turnaround time for the COVID-19 testing has increased.   The State CDC lab has had a significant rise in the number of swabs being submitted.  Originally the Maine CDC gave an approximate result timeframe of 24-72 hours.   It is currently running closer to 5 days.  CRH staff has NO control over this.  The only response time in the control of the CRH staff is how soon we call patients once the results are received and verified in the lab.  CRH lab staff is meeting the goal of making these calls in 24 hours or less.   Please share this information within the community if the opportunity presents itself.

The Health and Human Services, Federal Communications Commission and Department of Agriculture signed a memorandum of understanding with a goal to resolve service provider issues and help promote the use of broadband services and technology in rural America.  “The COVID-19 pandemic has made the rural healthcare challenge even more serious and has complicated healthcare providers’ efforts to serve rural Americans,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.   The agencies intend to create a task force aimed at exploring recommendations for how to boost telehealth. The agencies will also share information on how to address health disparities that exist in rural areas.   The agreement comes as the Trump administration has sought to expand the use of telehealth amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The administration has made it easier for providers to get Medicare reimbursement for telehealth appointments and President Trump made some of the changes permanent in an executive order last month.

Thank you for your service and dedication in caring for our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 31, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,526(1) total cases; 3,923 Recovered; 420 Hospitalized and 132 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (3,025 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 265,632 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 6,020,186 with total deaths of 183,355.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 191 confirmed cases.

Yesterday the United States reached the 6 million mark for COVID-19 cases.  It has been 22 days since we hit the 5 million mark and it was 16 days for the jump from 4 million to 5 million.  The United States currently accounts for 23% of the world’s cases.

Last week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released an interim final rule making the daily collection and reporting of COVID-19 related data a condition of participation for hospitals in the Medicare program, potentially subjecting hospitals to termination from participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs for noncompliance.  The new rule is effective upon publication in the Federal Register, which is scheduled for this week.  CMS will accept comments for 60 days after it is published.  An editorial in the Washington Times claims this final rule “is ridiculous and should be rescinded.”  “Hospitals know data collection is important,” the editorial says. “So does the government. The priority in all circumstances however must be patient care. The fact the demanded data has changed repeatedly during the pandemic as has the process for collecting it. Health care providers trying to save lives can’t keep up let alone understand at any given moment what the governors and feds want from them and without any additional funding or staff to help with this. They were set up to fail at data collection from the very beginning, and they are now being punished for focusing on patients first.”

Thank you for your service and dedication in caring for our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 28, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,436(1) total cases; 3,887 Recovered; 417 Hospitalized and 132 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,963 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 253,912 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,878,338 with total deaths of 181,022.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 191 confirmed cases.

Our Swab and Go COVID-19 testing tent processed 140 swabs this week.   Our total since opening the tent at the beginning of July is 888 swabs, still holding at 2 positives.  We continue to operate the tent Monday through Friday 8 – 10 a.m.   The tent will be open on Labor Day.

This week Pfizer announced that it is already halfway to reaching the goal of recruiting 30,000 patients as part of its phase 3 trial of a COVID-19 vaccine.  The company predicts full enrollment by the end of next month, which would allow data sets to be available this fall.   If all this comes to be, Pfizer could be set to release a vaccine by the end of the year.   They are one of many in this race for a vaccine.  AstraZenea, Johnson and Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline and Moderna are among a few worldwide diligently pushing to have vaccine options available, but most are predicting a 2021 release.

Friday’s Quirky COVID News:  For those finding COVID-19 scary, a group in Japan has started a new business to take people’s minds off the pandemic – by putting them in glass front coffins and surrounding them by chain-saw wielding zombies while they listen to a scary story.  “The pandemic is stressful, and we hope people can get a bit of relief by having a good scream,” said Kenta Iwana, coordinator of production company Kowagarasetai – “Scare Squad” – which is putting on the 15-minute shows.   The business was born from seeking a solution for out of work actors.  Apparently it was an untapped market for COVID stress relief as it has been well received by customers.

Thank you for your service to our community.   Have a great weekend!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 27, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,414(1) total cases; 3,847 Recovered; 415 Hospitalized and 132 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,947 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 248,689 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,854,342 with total deaths of 180,380.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 190 confirmed cases.

Yesterday the Maine Principal’s Association voted in support of playing high school fall sports with modifications to address safety issues related to COVID-19.   With this approval, each school system can now move forward and decide whether to participate or opt out.  Some school systems have already chosen to opt out of a fall sports season.

Potential talks of FEMA to change COVID-19 reimbursable expenses has many cities and states concerned. The National Governors Association and other organizations representing cities and states yesterday expressed concern that the Federal Emergency Management Agency may eliminate personal protective equipment and disinfectants as eligible reimbursable expenses under public assistance for COVID-19, citing recent communications from the agency.

“We also understand that FEMA may seek to tie eligibility to an arbitrary distinction between ‘response’ and ‘reopening,’” the organizations said in a letter to the agency. “This proposed change to PPE coverage continues a troubling pattern of shifting costs and responsibilities onto states and localities when they can least afford it. We call on FEMA to keep its current guidance on emergency protective measures, and encourage the Administration to provide clear guidance on eligibility of funding streams from across the federal government.”

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 26, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,389(1) total cases; 3,818 Recovered; 412 Hospitalized and 132 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,935 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 244,755 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,807,480 with total deaths of 179,235.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 190 confirmed cases.

Please continue to make every effort to be conscientious and cautious with medical supplies.  We are seeing some of our more readily used supplies being added to the allocation list over the last couple of weeks, as most healthcare providers in the nation have.   Gloves have especially been an issue this past week, with masks right behind.  Week over week, we have seen the supply level we have been able to maintain of gloves alone go down 40% overall.  Kim in Materials Management has been working diligently with vendors to track down available supplies and Rod in Facilities continues to submit supply requests to the CDC as well.  Shortages across the nation make procuring these items very tough, not to mention enduring the extreme price increases for the basic items needed to provide healthcare.   Glove costs have doubled and individual mask costs have risen from 4¢ each pre-COVID-19 to over 90¢ each now.

This week the University of Maine announced a 4th student has tested positive for COVID-19 and Colby College announced 3 positive cases.   Both colleges have been in the process of moving students onto the campus and preparing for classes to begin.   The University of Maine’s Dean of students announced earlier this week that one student had been suspended and seven others disciplined after they did not follow social distancing rules at parties.  Both colleges state they have aggressive strategies to deter the virus’ spread on campus.  Just like everything else, it’s easy to see that college life this year is going to be anything but typical.

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 25, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,368(1) total cases; 3,784 Recovered; 410 Hospitalized and 131 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,922 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   Through today we have collected 1,142 swabs for COVID-19 testing with 75 pending results and 2 positive tests.  There have been 240,145 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,764,304 with total deaths of 178,065.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 190 confirmed cases.

A look at the national COVID-19 data shows the virus has taken the greatest toll on the country’s seniors.   While making up only 19% of the US population, adults 65 and older account for almost 80% of COVID-19 deaths in the country according to the CDC.  Maine data by age is not currently available.

Don’t forget to share the info on the FREE food box delivery for Calais tomorrow:  The last delivery date in Calais of the FREE food boxes for any Washington County resident is Wednesday, August 26, 2-4 p.m. in the Tradewinds parking lot. The boxes includes these Maine products: 5 lbs potatoes, 6 lbs microwavable mashed potatoes, 2.5 lbs of Cheddar Cheese, half gallon of milk.  There is no need to register; you can pick up boxes for others.  Stay in your vehicle for pick up and staff will come to you.   Please share this information, especially to our homebound neighbors!

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 24, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,356(1) total cases; 3,762 Recovered; 409 Hospitalized and 131 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,911 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 237,644 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,728,363 with total deaths of 177,036.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 189 confirmed cases.

Last week Governor Mills announced a $200 million economic recovery grant program.  The program is targeted at small business and non-profits in Maine with 50 or less employees.  While grants from the program will not be able to replace all lost profits, the intention is to provide short-term relief to stabilize a business’ or organization’s ability to survive the economic damage of the pandemic.

Maine Cases By Age

COVID-19 has presented one learning curve after another since making its presence known. First it was about how it develops, transmits among the population and the best ways to treat it.  Now, we are also into learning about the long-term effects for patients post infection.  Some of the most common long-term effects that are being documented include shortness of breath, digestive problems, fatigue heart trouble, and neurological issues.   Organizations in many of the hot spots are now working to develop programs to care for post COVID-19 patients.   The American Hospital Association recently reported on a program at Saint Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey.

According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention report, one-third of COVID-19 patients who aren’t hospitalized struggle with long-term illness, such as a cough and lack of energy. They call themselves “long haulers.” Their symptoms can vary in intensity and duration. And it’s affecting not only older patients but also teens and young adults.  As we continue to move through this pandemic it is becoming more and more apparent that the ripple effects could be felt for many years to come and by many hundreds of thousands of our citizens.

Thank you for your efforts to provide for our community’s healthcare needs.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 21, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,285(1) total cases; 3,698 Recovered; 407 Hospitalized and 129 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,878 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 226,682 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,515,775 with total deaths of 172,640.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 188 confirmed cases.

The COVID-19 Swab and Go Testing Tent saw the first decline in numbers in the 7 weeks since we opened down to 129 swabs from last week’s high of 145.   However, the week did see the highest single day we have had with Monday seeing 53 people for swabs.  Total swabs through the tent have been 748.  The COVID-19 Swab and Go Testing Tent will be open on Labor Day.   Please share this information as the opportunity arises..

The State announced the addition of 5 more Swab and Send sites yesterday, bringing the total to 27 locations statewide.  The State estimates this provides 90 percent of Maine residents access to a testing site within 30 minutes of their home.

For Friday’s Quircky COVID news:   The New York Times recently ran an article: 11 Supposedly Fun Things We’ll Never Do the Same Way Again.   There were a few things to contemplate on the list like blowing out birthday candles and shaking hands.   But there are probably many that people haven’t even thought of as being a risk; like singing karaoke, kids ball pits and game night.  Life post pandemic will not be the same!

Thank you for your continued dedication.   Have a safe and healthy weekend.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 20, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,253(1) total cases; 3,679 Recovered; 405 Hospitalized and 128 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,861 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 223,023 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,540,022 with total deaths of 173,415.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 186 confirmed cases.

The State of Maine faces a projected $1.4 billion revenue shortfall over the next three years.   The Governor has ordered department heads to identify 10 % budget cuts to offset revenue losses.  Our fear is the healthcare industry will feel the brunt of the State’s efforts to offset revenue losses considering that Medicaid is a large expense in the State budget. There is hope that Congress will boost the federal Medicaid funding match provision to avoid unnecessary harsh cuts to healthcare during this pandemic.  Currently the decision is uncertain with the stimulus talks in Congress stalled.  Maine has not made cuts to eligibility, rates or services during the pandemic and has seen a 27% increase in enrollment.  With more people come more costs adding more stress to the Medicaid budget line.  While the additional funding will not be the entire answer, it would certainly affect some of the choices under consideration for addressing the State’s significant revenue loss.

The Washington Post published a very interesting interactive tool:   A Vaccine, or a Spike in Deaths: How America Can Build Herd Immunity to the Coronavirus that shows how much herd immunity needs to exist in a population to quell the spread of the virus.   Herd immunity is the ability for disease spread to be stopped by a percentage of the community members having immunity.    The interactive tool simulates a disease spreading through three different communities with different levels of immunity:  no immunity, 40% immune, and 80% immune.  The visuals of this science are thought provoking as we head closer and closer to the development of a vaccine for COVID-19.

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 19, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,234(1) total cases; 3,662 Recovered; 403 Hospitalized and 127 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,851 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   Through yesterday we have collected 1,000 swabs for COVID-19 testing with 56 pending results and 2 positive tests.  There have been 220,080 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,515,775 with total deaths of 172,640.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 186 confirmed cases.

We are starting to see more potential issues with PPE supplies as vendors cancel orders, limit quantities or do not have information on date of availability of products.   Most recently gloves are of concern for the future.  We have managed to maintain a good supply of PPE throughout the pandemic, but continue to monitor inventory and keep a watchful eye for potential issues.  The other issue is as supplies become harder to find is that prices have risen astronomically. This is a difficult position for many facilities to be in, but especially those suffering financially already.

The FDA has created a list of equipment shortages, fulfilling a requirement of the CARES Act. The CARES Act gave the FDA the authority to help prevent or mitigate medical device shortages. The provision includes requirements for manufacturers of certain devices to notify the FDA “of a permanent discontinuance in the manufacture of the device” or “an interruption in the manufacture of the device that is likely to lead to a meaningful disruption in supply of that device in the US” during a declared public health emergency.   The FDA is also providing a list of medical devices for which the FDA has been notified that manufacturing has been permanently discontinued.    The current shortage list includes personal protective equipment, testing equipment and ventilation-relation equipment. Those shortages are expected to continue through the duration of the public health emergency.

In other hospital news: Congratulations to Radiology Mammo staff for a great Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) Inspection yesterday. There were no adverse observations during the inspection which indicates that the facility meets all key MQSA requirements and no correspondence with FDA regarding the inspection is necessary.  Lead mammo tech Billie Jo Ham compiles data that is needed and maintains the documentation binders for the inspector to review.  The inspector spent almost six hours on site reviewing the documents as well as having Billie Jo perform a phantom mammogram. Department Director Billie-Jo Leighton shared her praised of Billie Jo Ham: “In addition to being amazing with her patients, she takes great pride in her work which is shown by her attention to detail and the organization of all the reports and documents she has to have for the Mammography department.”

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 18, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,213(1) total cases; 3,649 Recovered; 401 Hospitalized and 127 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,837 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.    There have been 217,182 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,469,444 with total deaths of 171,343.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 186 confirmed cases.

The automated monitoring system used by the Maine CDC for suspect COVID-19 patients is featured in an article/study in US CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.      At the beginning of the outbreak Maine didn’t have enough contact tracers or other resources to manage all the potential cases.  In mid-May, the Maine CDC began enrolling patients into Sara Alert, an automated web-based symptom monitoring tool.  Once enrolled, contacts automatically received daily symptom questionnaires until completion of their quarantine via their choice of email, web link, text, or telephone call.  The State then conducted investigations for those who reported symptoms or received a positive COVID-19 test. Throughout the pandemic have been many instances of learning as we go, creatively using resources wisely and making best use of personnel and equipment.

The CDC is holding a webinar this week on addressing the flu vaccine during COVID-19.  The CDC’s Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity (COCA) will host 2020-2021 Influenza Vaccination Recommendations and Clinical Guidance during the COVID-19 Pandemic.    The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, August 20, 2-3 p.m.   Presenters will discuss updates to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommendations for the 2020-2021 influenza vaccination season. Topics will include the Standards for Adult Immunization Practice, flu vaccination planning, general vaccination guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic and guidance for large vaccination clinics held in satellite, temporary or off-site locations.    To join the webinar you can use this Zoom link to join: https://www.zoomgov.com/j/1601970527      Webinar ID: 160 197 0527   Or Telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): US: +1 669 254 5252 or +1 646 828 7666

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 17, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,197(1) total cases; 3,638 Recovered; 393 Hospitalized and 127 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,823 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 15 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.    There have been 215,426 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,421,806 with total deaths of 170,277.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 186 confirmed cases.

Through last week the COVID testing tent has swabbed 619 patients over 6 weeks.  Last week the total seen was 145, continuing the pattern of increasing the number of completed swabs week over week.  Thank you to those who continue to assist with staffing the tent.  If you are interested in assisting, please let Kelly Ball or Bridgette Murray know.

Last week the Mills Administration updated prevention checklists for several types of businesses under stage three of the state’s reopening plan. Affected businesses include restaurants, movie theaters, gyms, museums and campgrounds.  Most of the updates are just a few additions or clarifications to previously released checklists.

With the end of summer fast approaching, schools have been working diligently to assess and determine the best course of action for each community in regards to children returning to in person sessions versus virtual learning.   The US CDC has created an info page providing some information and guidance for parents of both scenarios:  www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/parent-checklist.html.   This is a very uncertain and confusing time for the smallest of our community members while also leaving many parents struggling with making the best decision for their children and families.   Take the time to fully read your school’s plan for the upcoming year.  Be prepared with a backup plan, because as the last few months have taught us, life can change quickly.  Most importantly don’t forget to take time for your family to connect and enjoy each other!

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 14, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,049(1) total cases; 3,537 Recovered; 393 Hospitalized and 125 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,764 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 13 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.    There have been 193,846 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,071,179 with total deaths of 163,156.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 176 confirmed cases.

Earlier this week the Governor’s administration announced approval of $4 million for COVID-19 public health projects to improve their response to the coronavirus pandemic.  The grants are designed to help fund projects that support public education campaigns, physical distancing projects and local businesses.  Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew says the money has supported “innovative responses on the front lines of this pandemic.” One of the proposed projects is a campaign featuring a “Masked Moose” character in the town of Bethel. The campaign would include a costumed character who would visit schools and businesses to demonstrate the importance of coronavirus prevention.

Friday’s Quirky COVID news is a goat in India was ‘arrested’ for not wearing mask:  Kanpur police ‘arrested’ a goat that was roaming in the Beconganj area here ‘without wearing a mask’.   The incident took place over the weekend and the Beconganj police picked up the goat and took it to the police station in a jeep.   When the owner of the goat learnt that the police had taken it away, he rushed to the police station.   He pleaded with the cops and the police finally let him take  back his goat but warned him not to allow the animal to roam on the road.   Circle officer, Anwarganj police station, Saifuddin Beg, however, said that the police had found a youth without a mask, taking the goat along.   “When he saw the police, he ran away leaving the goat behind so the policemen brought the goat to the police station. Later, we handed over the goat to its owner,” he said.   One of the policemen who had brought the goat admitted that they found a lockdown violation because the goat was without a mask.   “People are now making their dogs wear a mask so why not a goat?” he asked.   The police apparently changed its version after it became the butt of jokes on social media.

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 13, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,049(1) total cases; 3,537 Recovered; 393 Hospitalized and 125 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,764 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 13 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.    There have been 193,846 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,071,179 with total deaths of 163,156.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 176 confirmed cases.

To track the spread of a virus, epidemiologists factor the daily number of new cases into a rolling 7-day average, which smooths out daily swings in case numbers and provides a clearer picture of infection trends.   In the chart below, each data point on the yellow line shows the average number of new cases for that day and the previous six days.   Last week it was reported that the seven-day daily average for positive test results was at 0.8%, the second-lowest in the country.  Vermont was lowest at 0.4%. 

The national average is about 8%, and states hardest hit have rates of 18% or higher.

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 12, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,049(1) total cases; 3,537 Recovered; 393 Hospitalized and 125 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,764 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 13 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.    There have been 193,846 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,071,179 with total deaths of 163,156.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 176 confirmed cases.

The Maine Hospital Association shared some research articles that have been released lately regarding COVID-19.   The titles are clickable links if you are viewing this via a computer, if not a google search of the article title will bring you to the document.

Timing Social Distancing To Avert Unmanageable COVID-19 Hospital Surges, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: With communities throughout the United States combating surges in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Northwestern University have created a framework that helps policymakers determine which data to track and when to take action to protect their communities. The model specifies a series of trigger points to help local entities know when to tighten social distancing measures to prevent hospitals from being overrun by virus patients. The method also aims to minimize the economic impact to communities by suggesting the earliest times for safely relaxing restrictions.

Prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies in Health Care Personnel in the New York City Area, Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that 13 percent of heathcare personnel at Northwell Health, the largest health system in New York City, had antibodies for COVID-19. The results compare to a recent New York State antibody screenings study which revealed 12.3 percent of the general population had antibodies. Another report from Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office showed 10.5 percent of the NYPD and 17.1 percent of FDNY/EMT members tested positive for antibodies.

SARS-CoV-2 Transmission and Infection Among Attendees of an Overnight Camp — Georgia, June 2020. A study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrates that SARS-CoV-2 spreads efficiently in youth-centric settings, resulting in high attack rates among persons in all age groups. The authors found that, despite efforts by officials at an overnight camp in Georgia to implement most recommended strategies to prevent COVID-19 transmission, 76% of those tested who attended the camp tested positive for COVID-19 because not all recommended mitigation steps were strictly followed. The camp had incorporated some CDC guidelines, including cohorting attendees by cabin and enhancing cleaning, but did not require campers to wear masks, nor were windows and doors opened for extra ventilation. In addition, activities in which the campers engaged, such as singing and cheering, are believed to aid in virus transmission.

Thank you for your support and efforts.  Stay safe and utilize safe practices at work and at home.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 11, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,050(1) total cases; 3,560 Recovered; 394 Hospitalized and 126 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,765 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 13 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 195,386 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,113,906 with total deaths of 164,101.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 177 confirmed cases.

As of yesterday our testing total since the beginning of the Pandemic is 803 swabs collected, with 53 pending results.

Quite a few states have issued travel advisories in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.   According to a July 30 Forbes magazine article, eight states and two cities have included fines as part of the advisories.  In July a Connecticut news report stated the first two fines had been issued for not filling out travel forms after returning from states on Connecticut’s travel advisory.  The fines were for $1,000.  One person also refused to quarantine and was issued an additional $1,000 fine according to Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.   The fines were issued by the CT Department of Public Health after receiving tips of the infractions.   Monitoring compliance is a difficult task and as such there are not many reports of follow through such as this.  The only other report that could be found of enforcement was an arrest in Hawaii.   It will be interesting to see if other states/cities jump on board with enforcement.

The Maine Hospital Association provided information on ventilation and COVID-19:  Recently, The Atlantic ran an article asking why we aren’t talking more about ventilation as we talk about re-opening schools. It offered interesting insight into so-called super spreader events: The super-spreader–event triad seems to rely on three V’s: venue, ventilation and vocalization. They overwhelmingly occur indoors.   The article links to a case in China where people in a restaurant were infected based on their proximity to an air conditioner. Another case at Korean call center indicated that the virus was transmitted in the air.    The Atlantic article recommends keeping windows open, which is ok in September, but dicier in January. Among the recommendations is the use of portable HEPA filters.   The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, better known as ASHRAE, has resources concerning ventilation systems and COVID-19.

Thank you for your support and efforts.  Stay safe and utilize safe practices at work and at home.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 10, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,049(1) total cases; 3,537 Recovered; 393 Hospitalized and 125 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,764 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 13 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.    There have been 193,846 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 5,071,179 with total deaths of 163,156.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 176 confirmed cases.

Over the weekend the United States crossed over the 5 million mark for COVID-19 cases.   The trip from 4 million to 5 million took the US 17 days.  Five states account for more than 40% of the infections (California, Florida, Texas, New York, and Georgia).    The Washington Post reported that nearly 100,000 US children tested positive for COVID-19 in the last two weeks of July according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.  That equated to more than a quarter of the total cases since March.

Last week the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association released a public service announcement (PSA) urging the public to take three simple steps to help stop the spread of COVID-19: wear a mask, practice social distancing and wash hands frequently.  This PSA is the first part of a campaign to increase public acceptance of these actions following the groups open letter to the public released in July.  In response to a resurgence of cases the group has launched the #WearAMask campaign.

If you are interested in a replay of the webinar Leadership Rounds at the end of July — a conversation with American Hospital Association Board Chair Melinda Estes, M.D., and David Perlstein, M.D., president and CEO of SBH Health System in the Bronx, N.Y. — you can watch a recording by clicking here. Estes and Perlstein spoke about how SBH Health System navigated the first wave of COVID-19 and how the virus changed the organization’s operations, among other topics.

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 7, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 4,014(1) total cases; 3,479 Recovered; 393 Hospitalized and 124 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,743 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 12 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.    There have been 186,632 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 4,902,692 with total deaths of 160,394.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 176 confirmed cases.

Our Swab n Send COVID-19 testing tent saw 122 people this week, bringing the total to date to 474. The data shows that 76% of those we have seen in the tent are from Maine.  The breakdown of where the out of state patients are from varies, with Massachusetts and Florida leading the numbers.   Please let Kelly Ball or Bridgette Murray know if you are available to help with staffing.   This is an appreciated community service we have been providing.

Friday’s Quirky COVID News:  Russian restaurant owners stripped of their income by the coronavirus lockdown were campaigning for their businesses to be allowed to reopen by posting pictures of themselves naked on social media.    Hundreds of bar, restaurant and cafe employees posted photographs of themselves naked with carefully positioned plates, cups, saucepans, bottles, bar stools and napkin holders.    Their demand is for authorities to allow them to start serving clients as the country gradually eases measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.    President Vladimir Putin ordered strict lockdown in March except for food stores and pharmacies.   In June some outside terraces were allowed to open but not indoor eateries.

Thank you for your continued dedication.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 6, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,997(1) total cases; 3,475 Recovered; 390 Hospitalized and 124 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,736 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 12 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests out of 681 total samples collected YTD with 58 still pending results.    There have been 183,519 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 4,864,151 with total deaths of 159,600.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 176 confirmed cases.

Below is chart of all States Rt value which correlates to the average number of people who become

infected by an infectious person within each State.  If a State can maintain a value below 1.0 the virus will essentially stop spreading.   This data is part available for viewing on the website https://rt.live/ .   Maine is marked with the red arrow.   The graphic to the right is Maine’s historical value with notations on Shelter in Place orders in place and when lifted.    For a better view at the graphical data see the website.

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 5, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,992(1) total cases; 3,456 Recovered; 390 Hospitalized and 124 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,732 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 12 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.    There have been 181,136 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 4,802,275 with total deaths of 157,551.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 174 confirmed cases.

Governor Mills extended the State of Civil Emergency today through September 3.   Most other State’s have also done this as it allows for continued access to Federal resources.   This is the Governor’s fifth extension, which can only be issued in 30 day increments per Maine law.   As of August 3rd, adjusted for population, Maine ranks 3rd lowest in the nation in terms of positive cases; 8th lowest in the nation in terms of deaths; 4th lowest in terms of patients ever-hospitalized out of the 36 states reporting; and 5th highest in the percentage of people who have recovered out of the 42 states reporting.

The World Health Organization provides a risk level breakdown by State and County at https://globalepidemics.org/key-metrics-for-covid-suppression/.   The risk levels are calculated based on daily cases per 100,000 population as a 7 day rolling average.   The risk levels and broad guidance offered are defined as:

Green = on track for containment; monitor with viral testing and contact tracing program

Yellow = community spread; rigorous test and trace programs advised

Orange= accelerated spread, stay-at-home orders and/or rigourous test and trace programs advised

Red = tipping point; stay at home orders necessary

The website states the intention is to provide guidance for policy makers and the public.   This is a graphical look at one of many metrics that is available regarding COVID-19.   Tomorrow I will share another value being considered in the battle to understand the safety level of our communities.

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 4, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,975(1) total cases; 3,424 Recovered; 388 Hospitalized and 123 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,721 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 12 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests out of 681 total samples collected YTD with 58 still pending results.    There have been 178,656 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 4,842,277 with total deaths of 156,133.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 170 confirmed cases.

The hospitalized and death stat was reduced by one today.   According to CDC Communications Director Robert Long the investigation conducted on a particular case determined that the death and hospitalization of a Cumberland County resident was found to not meet the criteria to be a COVID related death.   As a result the totals were reduced with today’s update.

Yesterday President Trump issued an executive order on “improving rural health and telehealth access.”   Highlights of the executive order include:

  • New Payment Model for Rural Health Care Transformation. The order directs the DHHS Secretary to announce within 30 days of the executive order a new model to test innovative payment mechanisms “to ensure that rural health care providers are able to provide the necessary level and quality of care.” According to the order, the model would provide regulatory flexibility, establish predictable financial payments and encourage the movement to value-based care.
  • Investments in Rural Health Care Infrastructure. The order requires a strategy to improve rural health by “improving the physical and communications health care infrastructure available to rural Americans.”
  • Report on Policy Initiatives to Improve Rural Health. Within 30 days, the HHS Secretary must submit a report on existing and upcoming policy initiatives to:
  • increase rural access to health care by eliminating regulatory burdens that limit the availability of clinical professionals;
  • prevent disease and mortality by developing rural specific efforts to drive improved health outcomes;
  • reduce maternal mortality and morbidity; and
  • improve mental health in rural communities.
  • Expansion of Telehealth Flexibilities. The order directs the HHS Secretary to review within 60 days the following temporary measures put in place during the COVID-19 public health emergency:
  • the additional telehealth services offered to Medicare beneficiaries; and
  • the services, reporting, staffing and supervision flexibilities offered to Medicare providers in rural areas.

The order also instructs the HHS Secretary to propose regulation to extend these measures, as appropriate, beyond the public health emergency period.

Thank you for your continued dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

August 3, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,970(1) total cases; 3,396 Recovered; 389 Hospitalized and 124 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,716 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 9 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 170,040 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 4,690,404 with total deaths of 155,124.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 170 confirmed cases.

Last week the Maine Department of Education released Health Advisory System categorizations of risk for school systems to use as guidance on how to resume instruction this Fall.   Counties were categorized as red, yellow or green.  Washington County was designated as green, as were all 16 other Maine counties.  Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the Maine CDC stated the designations will be updated every two weeks based on the latest Maine CDC data analysis and information from medical providers throughout the State.  The Health Advisory System results can be viewed at:  https://www.maine.gov/doe/framework/part-I/#risk.

The U.S. FDA has added more brands of hand sanitizer to its recall list, bringing the total to 87 products contaminated with methanol.  (The list can be found by clicking the link above or conducting an internet search for FDA hand sanitizer recall).    The agency is urging consumers not to use any hand sanitizer products from the manufacturers on the list even if the product or particular lot number are not listed since some manufacturers are recalling only certain – but not all – of their hand sanitizer products. Manufacturers’ failure to immediately recall all potentially affected products is placing consumers in danger of methanol poisoning the FDA said.

If any of the identifiers (name, company, or NDC) match a product on the list, the FDA urges consumers to immediately stop using the hand sanitizer. Dispose of the hand sanitizer bottle in a hazardous waste container, if available, or dispose of as recommended by local waste management and recycling centers. Do not flush or pour these products down the drain or mix with other liquids.

Methanol exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death.  The FDA encourages healthcare professionals, consumers and patients to report adverse events or quality problems experienced with the use of hand sanitizers to FDA’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program.

Thank you for your continued dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 31, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,912(1) total cases; 3,361 Recovered; 388 Hospitalized and 123 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,684 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 7 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 170,036 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 4,536,240 with total deaths of 152,878.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 170 confirmed cases.

Our Swab n Send COVID-19 testing tent saw 110 people this week, bringing the total to date to 352.   This week we also had our first positive cases as well.   Please let Kelly Ball or Bridgette Murray know if you are available to help with staffing.   This is an appreciated community service we have been providing.

Quality Director Theresa Brown sent out a message today to Department Directors on employee masking.  It has been observed that our staff has some room for improvement with consistent and appropriate masking.  We need to lead by example for our community members to show our commitment to keeping our patients and community safe and healthy.   Please note this info from Theresa’s message:

Our entire CRH/CRMS team needs to be vigilant and adhere to proper masking requirements in the workplace and hopefully outside as well.

  • To wear a mask (cloth or surgical) properly, it MUST cover the nose AND mouth. Wearing it below the nose or under the chin defeats the purpose and to get past this pandemic, it will take everyone being ultra-careful and responsible about following protection measures.
  • Masks are to be worn in all CRH/CRMS common areas, all clinical areas and in any public setting where social distancing is not feasible.

Please also understand that we will be providing gentle reminders when we see staff not following this and should it become an obvious pattern of non-compliance, may need to be addressed through corrective action.

To end the week here’s some Quirky COVID News.  The Sumida Aquarium in Tokyo has been closed since March due to Coronavirus.  Back in May aquarium staff shared that the shutdowns has been hard on everyone, including their eels.   Keepers at the aquarium posted videos on social media showing the eels hiding in their burrows whenever people approached, and they asked the public to help. They set up five tablets along the tank and asked people to FaceTime the eel tank to help the animals stay used to people.

Thank you for your continued dedication to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 30, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,888(1) total cases; 3,345 Recovered; 386 Hospitalized and 122 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,673 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 7 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had 2 positive tests.  There have been 167,719 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 4,464,906 with total deaths of 151,496.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 170 confirmed cases.

As noted in the stats above, we have had our first swab samples report back as positive for COVID-19.  The samples were collected in the Swab n Go Tent on two out of state visitors.  We are not sure whether the positive counts will show in the Maine CDC updates under Washington County however, because it may count within their primary home zip code.  As per CDC guidelines, the patients were informed of their results and to continue quarantine.  The Maine CDC will also follow up with them for contact tracing purposes.  Please remember the precautions you can take to protect yourself, family and other community members.  If you feel ill, please stay home.  Wash your hands often and for the recommended time frame or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.  Mask when you are out in public and practice social distancing.

Promotion of masking is showing up in main stream media and many retailers across the nation have developed their own products for consumers.   Vogue Magazine recently ran an article promoting mask wearing and a list of masks specifically with hot summer months in mind.  The article listed 41 Breathable Face Masks, including an option available from Maine based LL Bean.  For those that spend a lot of time outdoors near or within crowds in the summer, it may be worthwhile to check out the list of options.

The DHHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response recently posted these new and updated COVID-19 resources at its Technical Resources, Assistance Center, and Information Exchange:

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 29, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,866(1) total cases; 3,336 Recovered; 3885 Hospitalized and 121 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,662 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 7 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests with 545 swab samples collected and 40 pending results.  There have been 164,981 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 4,396,030 with total deaths of 150,034.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 170 confirmed cases.

Maine CDC has released updated data on COVID-19 cases by zip code in the State.  The information is available on the Maine Data section of the Maine.gov COVID-19 Homepage.

Currently, the United States currently accounts for over a quarter of the world’s 16.8 million COVID-19 cases. With that being said, Maine continues to have among the lowest infection and death rates in the nation from COVID-19, according to daily tracking and analysis by The New York Times. Maine has also escaped, to date, the surge in cases seen in many southern and western states.  As of Tuesday, Maine had an infection rate of 286 cases for every 100,000 residents, which was lower than every other state except Hawaii and Vermont. By comparison, the states that currently have the highest infection rates, Louisiana and Arizona, had 2,391 and 2,281 cases for every 100,000 residents, respectively.

Another great comment received today on our Swab n Go Tent for COVID-19 testing:  “For Kelly Ball and the staff at CRH: I should have said something to you last night during the meeting but I let the opportunity slip by. I know you have been working hard on the testing. I have had 3 members of my family that have been tested at CRH. They have all said it was a very simple and pain free procedure. So I would like to thank you and everybody else that have been doing the work to help keep us all safe.”  –   Bob Fitzsimmons.

Staff is still needed to assist at the Swab n Send tent.   This is a great community service we are providing that is being utilized by community members across the county and many coming into our community as visitors.  Please help us continue to be able to offer this service at the level we are by considering working a shift at the tent, Monday – Friday 8-10 a.m.  Contact Kelly Ball or Bridgette Murray to sign up.

Thank you for your continued dedication to the care and services we provide to our community.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 28, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,838(1) total cases; 3,319 Recovered; 384 Hospitalized and 121 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,646 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 7 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests.  There have been 162,028 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 4,309,230 with total deaths of 148,298.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 170 confirmed cases.

As the weather has changed into full summer swing of hot and sometimes humid, wearing a mask may be getting a little more uncomfortable.  The unpleasant challenges may include anxiety, headaches, confusion or fatigue according to respiratory group PN Medical.  See the graphic for some strategies that will help you breathe more effectively and feel better while wearing a mask.

Panelists from Northern Light Health hospitals will speak during a webinar about Coordinated Response & Business Recovery in Rural Health Systems, at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, September 8.   The panel is part of Northeast Hospital Associations and the Jefferson College of Population Health weekly webinar series COVID 19: Spread the Science, NOT the Virus Clinical Lessons from the Northeast Surge.   Webinar sessions are limited to the first 500 attendees.  If you are interested in registering for this webinar, see the Jefferson Digital Commons website.  Recordings of the webinars will be made available to all hospitals on the website as well.

Thank you for all you do for our patients and community!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 27, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,832(1) total cases; 3,292 Recovered; 383 Hospitalized and 119 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,641 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 7 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests.  There have been 160,371 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 4,271,070 with total deaths of 147,253.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 170 confirmed cases.

On Friday it was publicly announced that a confirmed positive case is now in our immediate area.  Please remember the precautions you can take to protect yourself, family and other community members.  If you feel ill, please stay home.  Wash your hands often and for the recommended time frame or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.  Mask when you are out in public and practice social distancing.

The local blood drive held on July 22 did very well.   We collected 39 units on a goal of 35.  Out of the units collected were 27 whole blood and 12 power red units.   We also experienced 15 first time donors or a rate of 38%, which is huge!   We also had an impressive 91% show rate.   We plan to help coordinate the remaining blood drives this year as well.    The dates are Sep 23 and Nov 18.   Volunteers are needed to help on both dates for shifts of 12:30 – 3:30 and 3:30 to 6:30.   If you are willing and available to help out, contact DeeDee in Community Relations.

On Friday the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar extended the federal Public Health Emergency (PHE).   A PHE lasts until the Secretary declares that the PHE no longer exists or upon the expiration of the 90-day period beginning on the date the Secretary declared a PHE exists, whichever occurs first. The Secretary may continue to extend the PHE declaration for subsequent 90 day periods for as long as the PHE continues to exist, and may terminate the declaration whenever he determines that the PHE has ceased to exist.  Extension of the PHE preserves the federal waivers that have been granted to date.

The US CDC recently updated the list of who is at risk of getting severely ill to reflect the recent data supporting increased risk of severe COVID-19 among individuals with cancer.    The updated list of conditions that are at increased risk:

            Cancer                                        Chronic Kidney Disease

            COPD                                          Immunocompromised State for Organ Transplant

            Obesity of 30 BMI or over     Heart Failure, Coronary Artery Disease or Cardiomyopathies

            Sickle Cell Disease                    Type 2 Diabetes

The list of conditions that might be at increased risk was also updated on the US CDC website in the People with Medical Conditions section.   The CDC stated, “We are learning more about COVID-19 every day, and as new information becomes available, CDC will update the information.”

Thank you for all you do for our patients and community!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 24, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,757(1) total cases; 3,259 Recovered; 378 Hospitalized and 118 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,599 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 5 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests.  There have been 153,565 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 4,054,407 with total deaths of 144,469.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 170 confirmed cases.

The Washington County total was reduced by one to 5 today.   I have not received information on the cause of the reduction yet.

The Swab-n-Go COVID testing tent saw its highest testing week and day.  Monday was the busiest day to date with 33 swab samples collected and this week saw a high of 94 samples collected.   Total testing through three weeks is at 242.  These numbers are for provider and standing orders combined.

The CDC recently posted updated considerations for ending isolation for adults with COVID-19, based on new evidence. CDC said the guidance does not apply to severely immunocompromised individuals; rather, it is intended to limit unnecessary extended isolation and preserve laboratory testing resources. Under the guidance, isolation for most people with COVID-19 can be discontinued 10 days after symptom onset, provided there are improvements of symptoms and no fever for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.

Thank you for all you do for our patients and community!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 23, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,737(1) total cases; 3,239 Recovered; 378 Hospitalized and 118 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,590 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 6 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests.  There have been 150,623 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 3,987,584 with total deaths of 143,495.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 170 confirmed cases.

The COVID-19 testing tent continues to see patients each morning.   Staffing help is still needed and anyone is welcome to participate.  The Swab-n-Go Tent operates Monday through Friday, 8-10 a.m.   Clinical and non-clinical help is needed.   Email Kelly Ball or Bridgette Murray with dates and times you are available.

In combined COVID-19/Chapter 11 news:  Today a motion is being filed with the court to dismiss our Chapter 11 case to allow the hospital to apply for and obtain funds under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  After acquiring PPP funds the hospital will then file a new bankruptcy petition and enter back into Chapter 11.   Two other hospitals have dismissed their Chapter 11 reorganization cases, obtained PPP funds, and then filed new bankruptcy petitions without objection from the SBA.

We feel we have just cause to dismiss our Chapter 11 case for an opportunity to apply for PPP funds given our significant patient revenue shortfalls suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.  This process will support the hospital’s efforts to maintain healthcare services for our community, allow us to fit within the purpose of PPP funds and support our ongoing reorganization and preservation efforts.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 22, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,723(1) total cases; 3,216 Recovered; 377 Hospitalized and 118 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,576 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 6 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests.  There have been 147,923 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 3,925,025 with total deaths of 142,401.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 170 confirmed cases.

Yesterday Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC Director, reported a correction to the State’s case count would occur today.  The CDC discovered a batch of positive tests turned out to actually be negative.  The tests came from a group of summer campers.  The CDC is investigating the testing device.

I have attached the updated infectious disease report through June from the Maine CDC.    The report is a graph of selected reportable diseases that displays the preliminary Year-To-Date (YTD) totals for the current year 2020 against the median YTD totals for the previous five-year period (2015 – 2019). Please note that Chlamydia and 2019 Novel Coronavirus counts need to be multiplied by 10.

On Thursday, July 30, 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. the MHA and the Georgia Hospital Association are hosting a free webinar, Communicating from Behind the Mask, focusing on the story of communication between a patient, his family and the physician during the patient’s almost two month battle against COVID-19.   Barbara Burnes, director of workforce development and service excellence departments at Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Georgia, will give participants tips and tricks for communicating behind the mask.   The registration link is:  https://gha.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Rjj8RnwZTGaF4P41C1kSuA

The Maine Hospital Association provided the following informational sources that track possible COVID-19 treatments.   The links are to trackers that try to get a handle on treatments that work, treatments that don’t and the ones that are still being evaluated.

  • The Milken Institute has information on more than 270 treatments and 197 vaccines that are being developed and studied.
  • STAT has a COVID-19 drugs and vaccine tracker that is supposed to update every five minutes.
  • The New York Times is following 19 treatments that it has divided into the following categories: Widely Used (2), Promising Evidence (2), Tentative or Mixed Evidence (10), Not Promising (2) and Pseudoscience or Fraud (3).
1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 21, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,723(1) total cases; 3,191 Recovered; 377 Hospitalized and 118 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,564 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 6 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests.  There have been 145,131 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 3,832,714 with total deaths of 140,914.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 170 confirmed cases.

Recently the State announced an expansion to the testing under the Standing Order through a partnership with Northern Light Health.   The increased testing will phase in beginning the week of July 20 and ramp up as staffing is increased, processes developed and testing kit delivery coordinated.

Last week the CDC released information on two new case studies that affirm that cloth face coverings “are a critical tool in the fight against COVID-19 that could reduce the spread of the disease, particularly when used universally within communities.” One study, reported in JAMA, found that adherence to universal masking policies for health care workers and patients reduced COVID-19 transmission within a Boston hospital system. Another study, released by CDC, found that wearing a mask prevented the spread of infection from two hair stylists to their customers in Missouri. According to a CDC survey released last week, the share of Americans who reported wearing a cloth face covering when outside their home rose from 62% in April to 76% in May.

“Cloth face coverings are one of the most powerful weapons we have to slow and stop the spread of the virus – particularly when used universally within a community setting,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D.

The AHA, American Medical Association, and American Nurses Association joined forces to urge the public to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distancing and washing hands

On the note of the importance of following basic recommended precautions to protect yourself, your family and the public from a virus that we have yet to fully understand the implications of and what those infected will be facing for years to come, please take a moment to read the attached letter from Dr. Fauci.  He shares interesting thoughts that provide some insight on the significance of what we do and do not know right now regarding COVID-19.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 20, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,711(1) total cases; 3,159 Recovered; 375 Hospitalized and 117 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,558 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 5 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests.  There have been 140,343 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 3,774,769 with total deaths of 140,563.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 170 confirmed cases.

CRH is assisting with the blood drive at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Calais on Wednesday, July 22 from 1 to 6 p.m.   Appointments can be made online at www.redcross.org.  If all slots are taken keep checking as some last minute appointments can become available online the day of the drive.  New for this drive is testing for COVID-19 antibodies for all donors’ blood.  This is a free service being offered. Donors will receive confidential results in 7-10 days via their Red Cross online accounts.  The Red Cross hopes testing will provide critical insight into whether donors may have possibly been exposed to this coronavirus, as some COVID-19 carriers can be asymptomatic.

In the race to respond better to COVID-19 earlier this month a company has been issued a new emergency authorization to the CDC for a combination influenza and COVID-19 diagnostic test.   The test is designed to help tell the difference between patients with one of the two diseases, who may present with similar respiratory symptoms. It’s the third diagnostic authorized by the FDA for this purpose.    “With just one swab or sample, combination tests can be used to get answers to Americans faster,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said in an agency statement. “This efficiency can go a long way to providing timely information for those sick with an unknown respiratory ailment.”    Additionally, testing for multiple diseases using a single swab can help reduce the demand for testing supplies, and reduce the risk of exposure to healthcare workers gathering the sample.  The FDA said it is encouraging developers to pursue more combination tests before the flu season begins in earnest this fall and winter, and has updated its submission templates for molecular diagnostic Emergency Use Authorizations.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 17, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,636(1) total cases; 3,114 Recovered; 375 Hospitalized and 115 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,522 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 5 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests.  There have been 133,329 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 3,604,408 with total deaths of 138,649.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 168 confirmed cases.

The Maine Hospital Association found a cool tool (https://covid19risk.biosci.gatech.edu/) developed by Georgia Tech that shows the risk level of attending an event, given the event size and location. It tells you the risk of having at least one person infected with COVID-19 in attendance.  The range of risk is astounding. For example, the risk of an infected person attending a 50-person event (currently the maximum event size allowed in Maine) in Kennebec County is less than 1 percent. In Pinellas County, Florida, where Tampa is, the risk is 94 percent.

Testing keeps evolving with many companies working not only on vaccine improvements but for better ways to test for COVID-19.  Earlier this month Burlington-based LabCorp received Emergency Use Authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for a new home-based testing service to screen patients for COVID-19.   LabCorp is launching the service with “select” health care providers initially and then will make it available to more health systems, hospitals, and surgical centers in coming weeks, the company announced in a news release.     The service enables a provider to order a COVID-19 test collection kit for a patient through a digital interface with LabCorp. Once the order is placed, the company will send the kit to the patient, who will collect a mucous sample using a nasal swab and send the specimen back to LabCorp via FedEx.  LabCorp will analyze the sample and then deliver the patient’s test results to the healthcare provider’s electronic medical record and the patient’s LabCorp Patient Portal.   This home collection kit and test have not been FDA cleared or approved but are currently allowed for emergency use only.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 16, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,598(1) total cases; 3,094 Recovered; 374 Hospitalized and 114 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,495 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 5 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests.  There have been 133,329 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 3,499,771 with total deaths of 137,420.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 168 confirmed cases.

When it comes to getting the U.S. back on track in its response to COVID-19, Anthony Fauci, M.D., said the U.S. needs to hit the “reset button.”  He elaborated by stating, “By pushing the reset button I don’t mean everybody locking down again. Obviously that’s more draconian. I do not mean that.”   States began to reopen when the U.S. hit a baseline of cases of around 20,000 a day—far higher than other countries in Asia and Europe. Now, cases have begun soaring to record levels of about 60,000 new cases a day.  Fauci has stated the U.S. has to focus on getting that baseline down by more carefully and prudently reopening.

With State re-openings being varied with guidelines and timelines, in addition to hit and miss community response to adherence, many are experiencing a resurgence in the number of cases and hospitalizations.   The average age of those infected have also dropped.  While the younger age group tends to not be as sick, they seem to forget how much they are putting others at risk through the spread of the virus.   It is important for all community members to take the responsibility of keeping everyone safe seriously.   Everyone can contribute towards keeping the virus numbers down through masking, social distancing and handwashing.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 15, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,578(1) total cases; 3,079 Recovered; 373 Hospitalized and 114 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,481 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 5 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests, with 334 swabs collected and 54 pending results as of today.    There have been 130,754 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 3,448,625 with total deaths of 136,699.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 168 confirmed cases.

I am happy to share the kudos Dr. Peter Wilkinson sent to Kelly Ball regarding a family member’s experience with our new COVID testing process last week:

“Just wanted to let you know Kelly, my daughter just got tested in Calais this am on her way back to her work in Boston and was very impressed with the smooth operation. She felt there was no comparison to when she got tested in Boston prior to her coming up to our house 2 weeks ago.  Much more streamlined and organized.  Thought you and the staff would like to know.” – Dr. Peter Wilkinson

The ongoing pandemic and the evidence that the potential for an increased healthcare crisis is still looming brought together three national organizations in an appeal to the public to join forces in the fight for the health of our nation.  Last week the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association issued a joint letter urging the public to take the simple steps to stop the spread of COVID-19 — wearing a face mask, maintaining physical distancing and washing hands.

“We are not powerless in this public health crisis, and we can defeat it in the same way we defeated previous threats to public health — by allowing science and evidence to shape our decisions and inform our actions,” the groups wrote.   The call to action comes as there have been dramatic upticks in COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country, with hospitals in some states at risk of being overwhelmed.

“To those of you who are doing your part in helping turn the tide of this pandemic — thank you,” the groups wrote. “Your actions are critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Moving forward, we must all remain vigilant and continue taking steps to mitigate the spread of the virus to protect each other and our loved ones. There is only one way we will get through this — together.”

While we have been lucky enough to not be overrun with positive cases in our community, we must all continue our vigilance in taking proper precautions to maintain that.  We must show vigilance in our own actions and vigilance in sharing our knowledge with our family and community members on how best to keep our community safe and its members healthy.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 14, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,566(1) total cases; 3,062 Recovered; 373 Hospitalized and 114 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,477 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 5 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests as of today. There have been 122,669 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 3,374,654 with total deaths of 135,802.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 167 confirmed cases.

The first official week of our COVID-19 Swab and Go Testing was completed successfully. During the 8-10 a.m. daily testing last week 33 swabs under the State’s standing order and 16 swabs via provider order were completed.    Thank you to the following team members:

Kelly Ball (Clinical Lead)

David Anderson (swabber)

Helene Chambers (Receiver)

Elena Mikelis (Prepper)

Shelly Bodkin (Infection Control consult and monitor)

Bill Cody (Set up/break down)

Rod Tirrell (Set up/break down)

Dee Dee Travis (Public Relations)

Per Diem helpers:

Katrina

Lee Seelye

Keila Gallway

With information and guidelines sometimes changing frequently and quickly, it is of utmost importance to take the time to stay informed and updated.

  • Make sure you are working with your department leader to understand your response plans and protocols.
  • Refer to updates on the CRH Intranet and the weekday memos.
  • The most up to date information about COVID-19, can be found on the Maine CDC and US CDC websites.
  • The CDC and 211 have partnered to create a hotline available by calling 211 or 1-866-811-5695. You can also text your zip code to 898-211 or email info@211maine.org
1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 13, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,558(1) total cases; 3,008 Recovered; 372 Hospitalized and 114 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,468 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 5 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests as of today. There have been 122,669 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 3,308,312 with total deaths of 135,219.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 166 confirmed cases.

Last week we received a Notice of Conditional Contract Award from the State of Maine as an official Swab and Send site.  We submitted our application at the end of June.  Final approval comes from the State Procurement Review Committee and successful negotiation of a contract.  While the reimbursement this would provide does not cover the entire cost of offering the testing services, it will place us on the State’s official Swab and Send site list ensuring anyone coming into or returning to our service area is aware of access for testing.

In a call with reporters late last month, CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D. shared that for every documented case of COVID-19 in the U.S., there are likely 10 more people who have been infected.   This assessment is according to CDC serological data that has been collected so far and is still being refined.   While there is great variability nationwide, it appears between about 5% to 8% of the American public has been infected with the virus at this point, Redfield said.  That means many individuals across the nation are still susceptible to the virus, and some states’ populations more than others because they have a lower antibody prevalence.

With this probability of more COVID-19 cases than testing is showing, support for taking simple steps to help stop the spread becomes even more important.   Please continue to practice and encourage face coverings, social distancing and washing hands.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 10, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,460(1) total cases; 2,931 Recovered; 366 Hospitalized and 111 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,414 or 70%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 5 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests as of today. There have been 115,552 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 3,156,234 with total deaths of 133,746.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 166 confirmed cases.

Dr. Nirav Shah, Director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention is moving his press conferences from Monday, Wednesday, Friday to a Tuesday, Thursday schedule. The press conferences will remain at 2 p.m. on those days.   At the beginning of the pandemic, Shah held daily press briefings. A few weeks ago, he moved to a three times per week schedule.    As a result, the next press briefing will be at 2 p.m. on July 14. You can find a live feed of the press conference on the Maine CDC website.

Legislation has been introduced in the Senate to ensure that a hospital doesn’t fall out of the 340B drug discount program due to a rapid change in patient volume sparked by COVID-19.   The bill introduced last week comes as hospitals continue to grapple with a financial crisis sparked by the pandemic.  House lawmakers wrote to their leadership asking for similar protections as well in April.

For hospitals utilizing the 340B program pharmaceutical manufacturers provide discounts in exchange for their products getting reimbursed by Medicaid.  340B hospitals must meet certain requirements such as providing certain levels of charity care and inpatient admissions of Medicare and Medicaid patients.  With volumes hitting extreme lows in response to the pandemic, qualifying for the program could be at risk.  The legislation would assure that hospitals maintain eligibility for 340B despite any change in reporting levels during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Losing 340B eligibility would be a substantial hit to many rural safety net hospitals.  CRH saw a benefit of $1.2 million last year from the program.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 9, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,486(1) total cases; 2,901 Recovered; 365 Hospitalized and 111 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,401 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 5 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests as of today. There have been 118,407 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 3,088,913 with total deaths of 132,934.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 166 confirmed cases.

As the COVID-19 pandemic transforms and changes, we continually assess and adjust procedures as necessary for our patient population and community.  As part of the ongoing, regular assessment it was decided to begin testing all CRMS General Surgery patients for COVID-19 prior to their procedure. The office will begin providing an order for this to CRMS General Surgery patients next week.

Yesterday Governor Mills extended the State of Emergency through August 6.  She also issued a new mandate regarding the enforcement of face coverings, but only for certain parts of the State.   Washington County was not included in this enforcement order.  However, for the continued safety of our community please wear face coverings/masks when you are entering businesses or any area where you may come into contact with others, follow social distancing guidelines and wash your hands frequently.   Most importantly, if you are sick please stay home.

Last week several Senators pressed the Federal Administration on what the plan is for how to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine once it’s available and how they will build public confidence to get them to take it.   CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, responded that the agency is working on a plan currently that will be distributed in the coming weeks.  “We still have concern from many and mistrust,” shared Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. “I am worried we don’t have a plan for how to deal with that.”    Top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, MD recognized that sentiment and stated, “We are thoroughly aware of what you are concerned about and it is a reality: a lack of trust in authority, a lack of trust in government.”

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 8, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,460(1) total cases; 2,856 Recovered; 363 Hospitalized and 110 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,387 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 5 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests as of today. There have been 115,552 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 3,035,231 with total deaths of 132,041.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 165 confirmed cases.

The decision was made last month to open Cardiac Rehab services.  Our hope was to be ready with safety processes and procedures for the service line by early July.  However, we have run into some staffing issues and the re-opening of the service has been delayed.  I will update you to an opening date as soon as the staffing issue is resolved.

The FDA recently released information regarding hand sanitizers found to contain Methanol, which is toxic when absorbed through the skin.   “Methanol is not an acceptable ingredient for hand sanitizers and should not be used due to its toxic effects,” said the release. “Consumers who have been exposed to hand sanitizer containing methanol should seek immediate treatment, which is critical for potential reversal of toxic effects of methanol poisoning.”

In June, nine hand sanitizers were found to contain methanol and the recent release added five more to the list.   See the graphic for the complete list that includes product names and numbers.  If you are using hand sanitizer, make sure to use a product that does not contain methanol and contains at least 60% ethanol. However, the FDA recommends that people wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, as opposed to using hand sanitizer.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 7, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,440(1) total cases; 2,816 Recovered; 360 Hospitalized and 110 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,373 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 4 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests as of today, with 237 swab samples collected and 20 pending results. There have been 113,525 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,953,423 with total deaths of 130,546.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 165 confirmed cases.

An alternative process for patients presenting for care who are unable to mask due to health conditions will begin tomorrow.   Upon arrival to the screening station at the main entrance, all patients and visitors are screened and asked to wear their mask while in the building.  If they do not have a mask, a mask is provided.   If a patient states they do not wear a mask due to a medical condition the patient will be provided a face shield, a paper bag for storage and cleaning instructions.  The patient will be asked to bring and wear the face shield each time they come for services.  Of course, as with all COVID-19 related processes, this is subject to continued availability of PPE supplies.  With the screening logs showing that the medical option to not mask occurs from 0 to 3 times a day (or 1.22% incidence rate), we do not anticipate this to cause a problem with current availability of PPE at this incidence level.

The hospital will only provide face shields to patients here for treatment or services. Visitors have the option of wearing shields if unable to wear masks; however they will have to provide/bring their own. Visitor face shields must fit securely to the crown of head and must extend below the chin while wrapping around the side of the face.

At the end of June more than 350 hospital and health system leaders from across the country participated in an AHA Virtual Advocacy Day to urge senators to include priorities that support hospitals and health systems in the next COVID-19 legislative package.  AHA representatives and hospital leaders urged their senators to include the following in the next legislative package:

  • additional support for front-line health care personnel;
  • forgiveness for accelerated payments;
  • maintaining health benefits for individuals and families and increasing coverage options for those who are uninsured;
  • appropriate liability protections to front-line medical providers and facilities; and
  • additional funding for hospitals and health systems.
1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 6, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,423(1) total cases; 2,787 Recovered; 359 Hospitalized and 109 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,359 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 3 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There have been 112,180 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,911,888 with total deaths of 130,101.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 165 confirmed cases.

Today was our official first day of testing utilizing the State’s Standing Order.   Fourteen people were swabbed this morning; eight were under the standing order with the rest being provider orders.  The COVID-19 testing tent will operate outside of the Ambulance Entrance Mon through Fri, 8-10 a.m.   We submitted the application to the State last week to be considered an official Swab and Send site.  There was no indication how long it takes for the application to be processed.

The Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC) is not receiving consistent race and ethnicity data from testers, which compromises the quality of the aggregate data. The Department of Health & Human Services has heard significant feedback from racial and ethnic groups that improvement is needed in this data.   In order to help address the disparity of cases to population, the state wants to have complete and accurate race/ethnicity data on their COVID tests.  The form to submit with all specimens request race and ethnicity data; however patients have the option to decline answering those questions.

The state is considering a Division of Licensing rule to require hospitals to include race and ethnicity data on all COVID-19 tests it sends to the state’s Health and Environmental Testing Lab. MHA has requested that the Division send a letter of guidance to hospitals before revising the licensing regulations.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 3, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,373(1) total cases; 2,731 Recovered; 358 Hospitalized and 105 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,325 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 3 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There have been 106,093 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,760,664 with total deaths of 128,951.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 165 confirmed cases.

Effective July 4, the CRH Visitor Policy will change to ONE visitor per patient at a time.  Visitors must still wear a mask for the ENTIRE visit, be 12 years of age or older, free of flu like symptoms and no known exposure to COVID-19.

Governor Mills announced Wednesday more States were being added to the exempt from quarantine list.   Effective July 3 Connecticut, New York and New Jersey now join New Hampshire and Vermont as exempt from the 14 day quarantine requirement or negative COVID-19 testing alternative.   The Governor stated these States were added to the list due to improving public health metrics in those States.

The Governor also announced that she will sign an executive order mandating the enforcement of the State’s face covering requirement.  The order will require Maine’s large retail stores, lodging establishments, restaurants, and outdoor bars and tasting rooms in Hancock, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, Sagadahoc, Cumberland and York counties, as well as the cities of Bangor and Brewer and Lewiston and Auburn, to enforce the requirement.  Mills said it will be part of the checklist businesses must agree to meet in order to open.  The order is being issued because of more people coming to Maine’s coastal towns and cities.  Mills said states across the country, such as North Carolina, Nevada, Washington and Oregon have implemented similar measures.  Governor Mills did not say when she would sign the order or when it would go into effect.

Have a Save and Happy 4th of July!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 2, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,328(1) total cases; 2,698 Recovered; 354 Hospitalized and 105 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,289 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 3 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There have been 103,466 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,699,658 with total deaths of 128,184.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 165 confirmed cases.

As the number of Covid-19 cases increases, hospitals and health systems continue to take substantial financial hits.  In a report released June 30, the American Hospital Association now estimates $120.5 billion in additional losses and expenses from July 2020 through December 2020, or an average $20.1 billion per month. These estimates are in addition to the $202.6 billion in losses the AHA estimated between March 2020 and June 2020, bringing total financial losses for hospitals and health systems in 2020 to at least $323.1 billion, not including the impact of currently increasing COVID-19 case rates. If the current surge trends continue, the financial impact on hospitals and health systems could be even more significant.   The report also highlighted the gap between projected hospital losses and relief funding provided to date.  The full report can be found here on the AHA website.

I will be out of the office on vacation tomorrow through next week.  DeeDee Travis in Community Relations will send out the daily memos on my behalf during this time.   I will be returning to town at the end of next week and available to respond to emails, however I will be in quarantine until I receive clearance via testing.

I wish all staff a Happy 4th of July celebration.  Stay safe during the holiday weekend.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

July 1, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,294(1) total cases; 2,671 Recovered; 351 Hospitalized and 105 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,262 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 3 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There have been 99,919 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,638,338 with total deaths of 127,485.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 165 confirmed cases.

Because of declining participation and questions, the Maine Center for Disease Control Zoom bi-weekly calls for hospitals hosted by Rita Owsiak, healthcare-association infections coordinator, that occur every other Friday will end. The state will host the calls on an as-needed basis.

Social distancing requirement and limits on gatherings have put the kibosh on most town’s Independence Day traditions. But there are still ways to celebrate.     Washington County will have a county wide parade to honor first responders.  The parade will begin in Steuben at 11 a.m. and follow Route 1 all the way to Indian Township.  The parade is expected to hit Calais around 1 p.m.  First responders will join in with the parade when it passes their towns, but few vehicles will participate for the full length.  Parade watchers are encouraged to find a comfortable spot along the route with respects social distancing guidelines.

Between the drought and the pandemic most towns won’t have official fireworks. But there will be televised displays.   A Capitol Fourth is still going on this year in Washington, DC and will be televised. In New York City, the Macy’s fireworks will be a series of five minute pop up shows in each borough, which will culminate with a grand finale that will be televised. The televised show will feature a “best of” the prerecorded fireworks from the previous five nights and then the grand finale.  In Boston, A Boston Pops Salute to Our Heroes will celebrate the everyday heroes among us through music, shouts outs, and a pre-recorded fireworks display.   The city of Nashville’s celebration can be streamed. Their celebration will honor healthcare workers and first responders.

Finally, the word on the street is that Maine fireworks stores have had record sales, so chances are you will hear some big bangs, no matter where you live.

Outside of COVID-19 activities, I would like to share that Chris Scalabrin has decided to depart from CRMS Orthopedics.  He has accepted an offer to practice in Campobello.  His last day in the CRMS office will be July 30.  We wish him the best with his new position.   We continue to recruit for an Orthopedic Surgeon.

The Annual Meeting was held yesterday.  In May 2019 the Board made changes to the bylaws to add term limits for Directors.  The changes allow Directors to serve three terms of three years each for a total of 9 years on the Board of Directors.  With the change effectuated this year, three long term Directors transitioned off the Board.  Thank you for many years of service to:  Herbert Clark (23 years), Linda Gralenski (27 years) and Dennis Mahar (32 years).  Each of them were presented with an engraved clock at last night’s meeting as a token of appreciation.   The new incoming Directors are:  Bob Fitzsimmons, Britani Holloway and Ian Pratt.  The Board of Directors elected the follow as officers: Ron McAlpine, Chair; Everett Libby, Vice-Chair; Merritt Loring, Treasurer; and Todd Smith, Secretary.      We also welcomed ten new Trustees:  Michael Ellis, John Gallant, Ellen Krajewski, Christopher Loughlin, James Myers, Anne Perry, Andrew Pottle, Debbie Pottle, Kathleen Irving and Amanda Gardner.

Thank you for your continued commitment and dedication.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 30, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,253(1) total cases; 2,646 Recovered; 348 Hospitalized and 105 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,230 or 69%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.   CRH has had NO positive tests as of today, with 195 swab samples collected and 2 pending results.   There have been 97,638 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,606,211 with total deaths of 126,360.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 165 confirmed cases.

Our team that’s been working on expanded COVID-19 screening efforts will be trialing their developed process via a “soft opening” trial run tomorrow and Thursday, 8-10 a.m. processing PROVIDER ORDERED TESTS only for these two days.  The team has spent many hours developing the process and set up to bring this opportunity to our community members.   Access to the open testing is subject to the DHHS Standing Order remaining active and availability of supplies via hospital vendors and the CDC.  The official expanded access begins Monday, July 6, with testing available each weekday between 8-10 a.m.

The DHHS Standing Order serves a number of purposes but does not require any healthcare provider or COVID-19 test collection site to provide a test. It allows for certain individuals to undergo COVID-19 testing without a direct order from a healthcare provider. It helps people who believe they have been exposed or have an elevated risk of exposure to COVID-19 and who do not have a primary healthcare provider, cannot discuss this exposure in a timely way with their healthcare provider, or are visiting Maine or coming back to Maine from another state, for example. Individuals continue to be encouraged to contact their healthcare provider to discuss their need for a COVID-19 test, especially if they have symptoms, to get an order for the test from their provider when indicated.

In COVID-19 treatment news, Gilead Sciences has announced trials will begin in August for an inhaled version of its antiviral drug Remdesivir, which is now given intravenously.   An inhaled version administered via a nebulizer “could potentially allow for easier administration outside the hospital, at earlier stages of disease,” Gilead Chairman and CEO Daniel O’Day said. “That could have significant implications in helping to stem the tide of the pandemic.”   The US DHHS yesterday announced it had secured nearly all of the company’s intravenous supply of the drug (500,000 doses) for use in US hospitals through September.  The allocation of the drug is overseen by the US DHHS and the States.

Thank you for your continued commitment and dedication.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 29, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,219(1) total cases; 2,623 Recovered; 347 Hospitalized and 105 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,201 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.    There have been 96,146 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,564,163 with total deaths of 125,928.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 165 confirmed cases.

On Friday Governor Janet Mills announced that her Administration has approved almost $9 million in grant awards to nearly 100 municipalities across the state under the Keep Maine Healthy Plan to support local COVID-19 public health, education, and prevention efforts.

The grant funds are awarded to Maine towns as they undertake the critical work to protect Maine people and visitors from COVID-19.  More specifically, the funding incentivizes municipalities and Tribal governments to develop and implement their own COVID-19 prevention, education and protection plans by reimbursing municipal costs associated with public health education and prevention activities. These plans, for which the state is supporting up to $13 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds from the CARES Act, aim to help keep Maine people and visitors safe from COVID-19 by including one or more of the following:

  • Public education activities: This could include printing and posting of existing State or national COVID-19 prevention information and developing local educational activities that are consistent with CDC guidelines. Costs eligible for reimbursement would include staff time for planning and education activities and costs for signage, materials, website development, brochures and mailing.
  • Physical distancing and public health support: This could include fences, tape, and signage for physical distancing in public spaces and closed streets; providing staff to limit crowds in front of restaurants, bars, beaches and other sites; new traffic pattern signage and education; purchases of personal protective equipment and hand sanitizer to be made available for staff, visitors, and for use at public locations; and extra cleaning supplies and additional staff time required for enhanced cleaning and management of public spaces and restroom facilities.
  • Local business assistance: This includes staff time for a Code Enforcement Officer, Local Health Officer, or other person designated by the municipality or Tribe to be the local contact for educating local businesses on best practices.  This may include following up on public complaints and, for certain cases, reporting to State officials when there is a potential public health violation that cannot be quickly resolved through educational means.

Thank you for your continued commitment and dedication.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 26, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 3,102(1) total cases; 2,542 Recovered; 343 Hospitalized and 103 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,111 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.    There have been 92,391 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,425,814 with total deaths of 124,509.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 165 confirmed cases.

The COVID-19 testing team conducted a walk through today to trial their process for providing some open community testing availability. (We continue to provide COVID-19 testing for patients who have orders from their provider.) The team is aiming for an early July start date for the open community testing hours. This project has included a lot of moving parts from staffing, communication, supplies, traffic control, etc.

Board Chair Ron McAlpine submitted a letter to the Bangor Daily News after the last news story.  BDN has finally published it, our local papers published it weeks ago.  The letter can be viewed online at the following link https://bangordailynews.com/2020/06/25/opinion/letters/friday-june-26-2020-we-cant-hide-from-racism-support-high-speed-internet-access-concern-about-news-coverage/

CRH is once again assisting with coordination of another blood drive in the area. The drive will be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Calais on Wednesday, July 22 from 1 to 6 p.m.   Appointments can be made online at www.redcross.org.   At the last blood drive no walk-ins were accepted, although some last minute appointments did become available online the morning of the drive.  New for this drive is testing for COVID-19 antibodies for all donors’ blood.  This is a free service being offered. Donors will receive confidential results in 7-10 days via their Red Cross online accounts.  The Red Cross hopes testing will provide critical insight into whether donors may have possibly been exposed to this coronavirus, as some COVID-19 carriers can be asymptomatic.  There is a need for volunteers to help staff the registration and canteen area.  Please contact DeeDee Travis in Community Relations if you are interested in volunteering.

This week House Democratic leaders released info for the Moving Forward Act, which is a $1.5 trillion plan to rebuild American infrastructure and it includes some provisions for healthcare.  A portion, $30 billion, would specifically apply to hospitals for upgrades to increase capacity and strengthen care or improve clinical laboratory infrastructure.  It would prioritize awards for projects that include modernization for public health preparedness or protecting against cybersecurity threats.  This may be a bill to watch for potential qualification at our Critical Access Hospital level.

Thank you for your work in supporting our community with quality healthcare services.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 25, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 2:15 p.m. today there are: 3,070(1) total cases; 2,512 Recovered; 343 Hospitalized and 103 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,090 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.    There have been 90,165 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,407,167 with total deaths of 122,320.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 165 confirmed cases.

As a result of COVID-19 it is anticipated that many individuals will lose their health coverage.   Consumers for Affordable Healthcare is hosting a free webinar on July 1 for Mainers who have recently lost their employer-based health insurance.   The website is www.mainecahc.org and the right column of the home page contains the link to register for the webinar.  The home page also contains a link to an informational page on options after loss of insurance coverage.  Please forward this information to anyone you may be aware of who has lost, or will soon lose, their health insurance.

Yesterday the CDC released an updated and expanded list of those most at risk of severe illness from COVID-19. The updated list is based on a detailed review of evidence and scientific data to date.   The CDC removed the specific age threshold from the older adult classification, now stating that risk increases steadily as you age.   The list of underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of severe illness was also updated as follows:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes

As more information becomes available, it is clear that a substantial number of Americans are at increased risk of severe illness – highlighting the importance of continuing to follow preventive measures.

Thank you for your continued commitment and dedication.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 24, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 2:15 p.m. today there are: 3,017(1) total cases; 2,490 Recovered; 339 Hospitalized and 103 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,045 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.    There have been 87,694 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,366,961 with total deaths of 121,746.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 165 confirmed cases.

We continue to provide COVID-19 testing via provider orders as an outpatient lab test.  A team of staff has been working to bring some open testing availability to our community members.   While we will not take part as an official Swab and Send site of the State, this will provide some local access to testing without a provider’s order.   The team anticipates offering the open testing during the same days/time we currently draw for the provider orders which is each weekday between 8 – 10 a.m.   The continuation of the open testing option will be dependent on the availability of supplies.   The team is conducting a walkthrough of the process on Friday at 10 a.m. in the Ambulance Entrance area.  I’ll be sure to update staff once we have a start date for the expanded testing.

A general reminder to staff on email process: please only utilize the All Employees list for messages approved by a senior leader to be distributed via that list.  Also be aware of using reply all on an email you receive that went to all staff.    Overuse of this contact list via direct emails or reply emails can clog up the email boxes unnecessarily.

A new study released this week by the CDC shows emergency department visits dropped by 23% for heart attacks, 20% for strokes and 10% for hyperglycemic crises in first 10 weeks after the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration. The study’s authors captured 73% of the nation’s ED visits from the CDC’s National Syndromic Surveillance Program and local partners and compared numbers from the Jan. 5-March 14 period to those from March 15 to May 23.   This study highlights the need to reinforce the importance of continuing to seek timely care for medical emergencies, even during a pandemic national emergency.  Community members should not delay needed care and need to know that it is safe to seek care for health conditions and emergencies at the local hospital and provider offices.

Thank you for your continued commitment and dedication.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 23, 2020

In the State of Maine today there are: 2,994(1) total cases; 2,443 Recovered; 339 Hospitalized and 102 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,026 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  There have been 84,412 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,325,970 with total deaths of 120,913.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 165 confirmed cases.

Reminder on staff masking:  Staff must wear masks with all patient encounters and in all public access areas (lobby’s, halls, etc) until further notice.   We want to ensure staff exhibit proper masking as per the CDC recommendations to ensure community members feel safe coming to our facility to receive healthcare services.  Masks should be in place before entering any facility on the CRH campus.   Staff that does not provide direct patient care may wear cloth face coverings.

Congratulations to Elizabeth Incannella who has completed the Family Nurse Practitioner program and passed the State boards!  The need for new providers is especially high right now.

In COVID-19 treatment news, low doses of long-used steroid dexamethasone has shown potential for improving the chances of patients who become seriously ill from COVID-19 infection and require some kind of breathing assistance.  Last week the results of a study at Oxford University were released and showed that low doses of the common medication provided to hospitalized patients suffering from COVID-19 reduced deaths by about one-third in patients who were on ventilators. The drug, which is widely available and has a low-cost, also reduced death by about one-fifth in patients who were receiving oxygen, the researchers said. Patients who did not require respiratory assistance saw no benefit, according to the report.

Thank you for your continued commitment and dedication.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 22, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 2:15 p.m. today there are: 2,971(1) total cases; 2,409 Recovered; 336 Hospitalized and 102 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (2,008 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  We have collected 152 tests with 7 currently pending.  There have been 83,260 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,298,696 with total deaths of 120,225.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 164 confirmed cases.

As of Saturday, June 20 the Patient Visitor Policy was updated to expand in house patient visitors to two per patient.  ALL visitors must also be able to wear a mask for the duration of the visit.   The other criteria remained the same: no flu like symptoms, no visitors under the age of 12 and all visitors must be screened.

As we continue to move through the COVID-19 pandemic and the attempted opening of social and visitor settings, please be aware there is an increased scrutiny of perceptions on social media and within the community.  We want to continue to ensure that our community members are aware of our procedures and confident in our ability to keep them safe while receiving care with us.

Today the Mills Administration announced that it is postponing the reopening of indoor service at bars to protect public health given the higher risk of COVID-19 transmission in such settings.  Under the Administration’s Restarting Maine’s Economy plan, bars across Maine have been able to reopen for outdoor service and were tentatively scheduled to resume indoor service on July 1 (Stage 3). However, given the elevated health risk presented by bars, along with major outbreaks in other states linked to the reopening of bars, the Administration is postponing indoor service until further notice. Bars can still provide outdoor seated service to patrons, and the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations will work closely and promptly with businesses to establish or expand their outside capacity.

Thank you for your continued commitment and dedication.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

 

June 19, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 2,913(1) total cases; 2,323 Recovered; 328 Hospitalized and 102 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,973 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  There have been 80,315 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,206,630 with total deaths of 118,809.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 164 confirmed cases.

We still sit at 2 cases for Washington County, although with the new case announced yesterday there is potential for more cases to develop if direct exposure occurred to other community members.   Please continue to reassure your friends and family on taking safety precautions and that we are here and ready to care for them if the need arises.

In national news on the fight against COVID-19, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a new rapid, portable COVID test developed by Cue Health Inc.    The test claims to detect the virus that causes COVID-19 in 25 minutes using a nasal swab taken from the lower part of the nose.  The tests are run on equipment proprietary to Cue Health Inc.  There is no indication on how long before the equipment and tests would be available publicly or how long before either would be widely available across the country.

Thank you for your continued commitment and dedication.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 18, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:30 a.m. today there are: 2,878(1) total cases; 2,300 Recovered; 323 Hospitalized and 102 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,944 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of June 17 there have been 77,025 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,177,842 with total deaths of 118,279.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 164 confirmed cases.

As most have probably already heard, today the CDC updated included an additional count for Washington County.   While it will bring about much speculation of whom and where, we really must focus ourselves and our community members on the most important message of safe practices.   While it makes for great gossip, we must not allow ourselves or our community members to forget that while remote, we are not immune to COVID-19 reaching our area.  We must all continue with the safety precautions of staying home when sick, handwashing, wearing masks when appropriate and social distancing as much as possible.

We continue to monitor our PPE inventory on a weekly basis.   Last week saw an increase in ear loop masks, which was concerning as they are one of the many supplies that are not always available.  This week’s inventory review showed a substantial drop from 1770 to 600 on the ear loop mask usage.   We continue to place orders via our normal vendors as well as with the CDC to keep our supply stock at an optimal level.

After reviewing the State’s proposal for the Swab and Send sites it is apparent to most hospitals, especially the CAH’s, that the requirements to become an official site are not very feasible. The requirements and expectations far exceed the benefit for our organization and small community.  Contacts at other facilities have come to the same conclusion.   However, we will continue with what we are doing to provide testing for patients in our area that need the test due to symptoms, exposure or requirement for further medical services.   We do have a group of staff monitoring and reviewing the changes in testing allowances and working to continually evolve our testing process to best serve our community with swabbing and testing options for COVID-19.  I will provide more updates as we move forward.

Thank you for your continued commitment and dedication.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 17, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 2,836(1) total cases; 2,275 Recovered; 323 Hospitalized and 102 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,911 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today and has submitted 109 swab tests total.  There have been 77,025 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,150,923 with total deaths of 117,423.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 164 confirmed cases.

HHS released guidance on the reporting measures tied to the CARES Act relief funds.   Finance staff will be busy over the next few days carefully reviewing the reporting requirements and items to be accounted for regarding funding received.  Good documentation of our expenses and time spent on COVID-19 issues will be extremely important as audits can occur up to three years out from receipt of the funds.  Finance may be requesting some staff to track and report their time spent on COVID-19 activities to assist with ensuring as much of our efforts are tracked as possible.

On Monday the National CDC issued updated safety guidance for being outside of your home and social activities.  The recommendations are to continue wearing face coverings in public, washing hands and social distancing when possible.  “The whole goal is to keep that curve as flattened as possible and to delay the onset of new cases for two reasons,” said Jay Butler, M.D., CDC’s deputy director of infectious diseases. “We want to make sure critical infrastructure that’s important for societal function as well as the availability of healthcare services is maintained and that none of these services are overwhelmed by a sudden increase in the number of cases.”  The updated info sheets can be found on the CDC website at:  www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/going-out.html.

Based on ongoing analysis and emerging scientific data, the FDA has revoked the emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat COVID-19.  The determination was based on recent results from a large, randomized clinical trial in hospitalized patients that found these medicines showed no benefit for decreasing the likelihood of death or speeding recovery.  Other new data also showed these medicines are unlikely to kill or inhibit the virus that causes COVID-19.

Thank you for your efforts and dedication to the healthcare of our community members!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

 

June 16, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:15 p.m. today there are: 2,819(1) total cases; 2,233 Recovered; 321 Hospitalized and 101 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,900 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  There have been 75,231 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,124,155 with total deaths of 116,567.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 163 confirmed cases.

As has been mentioned on the news, the State of Arizona is reporting a major spike of COVID-19 cases.  The spike coincides with the relaxation of the state’s stay-at-home order (which expired May 15 there).  With most other State’s also beginning to relax (including Maine), more people traveling and group protests that can’t always ensure for distancing it is wise to anticipate increased cases in many areas of the country.  While we continue to remain relatively isolated in our corner of the world, it is important to maintain our preparation activities and be ready.  Please continue your vigilance at work and at home in keeping you and your family healthy and safe.

According to a story by Fierce Pharma there are more than 130 vaccines against COVID-19 under development, with headlines highlighting their progress swirling around the news cycles at a dizzying pace. Behind the scenes, many are scurrying and intensely focused on what is needed to produce a vaccine on a massive scale: manufacturing space, equipment, raw materials and people.  A Merck exec cautioned that there won’t be nearly enough global capacity to make all of the vaccine candidates in development, so it’ll take a collaborative approach to select the best options for manufacturing. Plus, the first “process and product” to reach the market might not be the “final process and product.”    The article noted that while companies work through their manufacturing concerns, there is also a need for a COVID-19 vaccine education and awareness push ahead of any immunization campaign.  “If we don’t have communities ready to accept [the vaccine] and trust it, that work is going to be for naught,” said Vivien Tsu, a clinical professor of global health at the University of Washington.

I thought the attached disease surveillance report, for distribution to the general public, prepared by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention was very interesting and worth passing on to our staff. The report is a graph of selected reportable diseases that displays the preliminary Year-To-Date (YTD) totals for the current year 2020 against the median YTD totals for the previous five-year period (2015 – 2019). Please note that Chlamydia and 2019 Novel Coronavirus counts need to be multiplied by 10.

For more information about these reports (as they drill down to a county level), please check out the Division of Disease Surveillance at disease.reporting@maine.gov. All other infectious disease publications are available at http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/, and STD and HIV related publications are available online at: http://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/hiv-std/index.shtml.

Thank you for your efforts and dedication to the healthcare of our community members!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 15, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:15 p.m. today there are: 2,810(1) total cases; 2,189 Recovered; 317 Hospitalized and 101 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,891 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  There have been 73,783 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,102,765 with total deaths of 115,862.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 160 confirmed cases.

On Friday the Mills Administration announced that it has accelerated the first day that lodging establishments in Maine can begin serving out-of-state visitors who meet the 14 day quarantine requirement or the State’s new testing alternative.   The date has been moved to Friday, June 26 from the previous Wednesday, July 1.  The introduction of the Keep Maine Healthy plan may have more people looking to receive a COVID-19 test.   Please continue to let people know that CRH can conduct the swab collection for the tests as we always have.  We did receive notification from the State last week that they are working to get the maps and links corrected to show all places testing is available.  As of this morning CRH is now showing on two of the websites DHHS is using, but still has not been placed on the website link from the Keep Maine Healthy webpage.  Which is why I ask employees to continue to spread the word that CRH is offering the testing services.  It is unclear how long it will take for the information to be corrected.

As mentioned in my memo on Friday, the Ombudsmen report to the court will be available this afternoon on the CRH Intranet for staff to review if you wish.   Thank you to the IT department for assisting with this effort.

Thank you for your efforts and dedication to the healthcare of our community members!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 12, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 2,667(1) total cases; 2,062 Recovered; 308 Hospitalized and 100 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,792 or 68%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today out of 100 samples collected for testing.  There have been 67,861 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,027,521 with total deaths of 113,899.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 154 confirmed cases.

On Wednesday Governor Janet Mills extended the State Emergency through July 10.  A State of Emergency allows the State to continue to draw on Federal resources for responding to COVID-19.   Nearly every state in the nation has continued with a State of Emergency.

CFO Jennifer Griffey mentioned at our last COVID-19 weekly meeting that we have seen a slight uptick in our volumes, not back up to prior levels, but an increase.  See the chart at the right that shows how we are trending for volume.    Please continue to share with community members that our services are open and it is safe to seek care here at the hospital and in our offices.

With respect to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), everything looks really good exc

ept for the ear loop masks. We’re ok for now, but we had a higher than normal usage week with ear loop

masks using 1,770 masks when we’ve been averaging between 500-550 ear loop masks per week. This is very high and if we keep this pace, we could severely deplete our inventory.   We continue to remind folks to use cloth masks where they can. Rod Tirrell has approximately 40 cloth masks left in his office for people to take and we can get more if needed.

Our Hospital continues to be bashed by the Bangor Daily News…and others, see link below to the article:.https://bangordailynews.com/2020/06/12/business/watchdog-warns-cash-strapped-calais-hospital-to-avoid-cuts-that-would-hurt-patients-care/  DeeDee Travis will be posting the Ombudsman’s report on our intranet for staff to read early next week, as it is a public document due to being in a C11. I’m hoping that our advocates in the community and staff will respond to this continuous beratement of our Hospital.  Although this was all caused by a disgruntled employee, who has since left us, we will remain taking the high-road and continue to provide the best possible care to the communities that we serve.

Next week I will be appointing a special committee which will include non-management personnel to help with establishment of a new health benefit plan for our employees that is fair, better quality and reasonable for staff and the Hospital. We currently have a self-insured health benefit plan that is very costly in many ways and not the right fit for this organization. If we are to come out of C11 and be financially viable for the future, we need to make this change, and soon.

Once again, I would like to thank some more of our thoughtful staff for their wonderful efforts in beautifying the hospital campus.  Two planter barrels were placed by the front entrance and supplied with flowers by staff.  Thank you to those that donated time, materials and help in getting them in place:  Brenda Prout, Anna Lanahan, April Free, Angela Clark, Benai Parks, Rod Tirrell, Bill Cody and Jeff Stewart.

Have a fantastic weekend and thank you for your efforts and dedication to the healthcare of our community members!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 11, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:15 p.m. today there are: 2,667(1) total cases; 2,062 Recovered; 308 Hospitalized and 100 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,792 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  There have been 67,861 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 2,013,940 with total deaths of 113,467.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 153 confirmed cases.

The first report of Patient Care Ombudsmen Jeff Brown was submitted to the court earlier this week.  The report was as expected based on the exit interview with Mr. Brown following his onsite visit.   There were many positive findings and the report stated, “The PCO determined that the quality of patient care at CRH has not declined significantly, nor been materially compromised based on documents reviewed, onsite observation and information elicited during interviews…”   There were some recommendations for process and procedure for areas such as reporting, process improvement efforts, etc., and recognition for the efforts already in place with the Plan of Correction submitted to DHHS but nothing of significant consequence.   Thank you to all staff who took part in Mr. Brown’s visit and interviews.

It is no surprise to me when I hear of extraordinary things our staff do or how far above and beyond they are willing to go.  And there are many, many instances of our staff going the extra mile that are never shared publicly.  However, one particular story that came to me this week needs to be shared.  We have a patient that is in house on comfort care and desperately hoped to make it to her child’s graduation this weekend.  When it became evident that this would not be able to happen our staff came together and coordinated a graduation presentation that the patient could attend.   Staff created a “graduation room” and invited the principal to present the diploma where the patient could safely witness this momentous occasion in her child’s life.  Much recognition and kudos to Laura Amber for the idea, organization and capturing of the moment and to the many Inpatient Care Unit Staff who donated decorations, funds and assistance in making this possible for our patient and the family. Our community members are truly privileged to have such caring compassionate staff available to care for them when needed.

Outside of COVID-19 activities, I would like to share that Dr. Alexandria Idenburg has decided to depart from CRMS Family Medicine.  With her family and other obligations she has determined it best to discontinue her part time duties as a primary care provider. Her last day in the CRMS office will be July 9.  We wish her the best in her future endeavors.   We will be recruiting for a provider and in the meantime have secured some additional days coverage with Dr. James Eshleman and will also assess the need for a locum provider.

Thank you for your efforts and dedication to the healthcare of our community members!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 10, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 2,637(1) total cases; 2,023 Recovered; 303 Hospitalized and 100 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,771 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today out of 98 samples collected for testing.  There have been 66,283 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,990,112 with total deaths of 112,441.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 151 confirmed cases.

The Governor’s announcement of creating “Swab and Send” sites around the State has led to far more questions than answers.   The map included in the initial release did not list CRH as being a current or proposed site. Over the last two days we have been reaching out to multiple people and agencies within the State to obtain information as to what it means exactly to be a “Swab and Send” site with no responses received.  We have also reached out to facilities that were on the map of current and proposed sites to ask how/why they were included, only to find that they do not know and are just as in the dark as we are – and just as concerned as they do not know what this program entails for requirements, expectations, etc.   Also concerning is the very vague wording in the Governor’s release that states the Federal funding will “help” and “support” expanded testing.  This type of wording typically means a participating organization is also responsible for funding some of the expenses involved in the endeavor.

With all of that being said, I do not know if CRH will have a “Swab and Send” site until we can get and review exactly what is required to meet that designation for that from the State.  But, what I can tell you and ask you to share if someone asks you about CRH and testing is that we have been, and will continue to, collect swab samples and submit to the lab in either Bangor or Augusta for testing.   Patients that have questions or concerns or feel they may need a test can give their primary care provider a call or reach out to the ED staff for help and more information.

Thank you for your continued vigilance and support.  Be safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 9, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 2,606(1) total cases; 1,992 Recovered; 302 Hospitalized and 100 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,752 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  There have been 64,617 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,971,302 with total deaths of 111,620.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 147 confirmed cases.

Senator Susan Collins office today announced that she has proposed legislation to allow nonprofit critical access hospitals undergoing Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization to apply for forgivable loans through the Paycheck Protection Program.  The PPP for Critical Access Hospitals Act will expand the PPP to include hospitals like CRH and provide assistance in offsetting lost revenue until normal patient volumes return and pandemic related disruptions of operations have ceased.

The U.S. DHHS announced new guidance that specifies what additional data must be reported to DHHS by laboratories along with COVID-19 test results. The guidance standardizes reporting to ensure that public health officials have access to comprehensive and nearly real-time data to inform decision making in their response to COVID-19.    The requirement includes demographic data like race, ethnicity, age, and sex.  DHHS will require all laboratories to report results for each test completed within 24 hours of results for each individual tested. The CARES Act requires laboratories that test for COVID-19 to report the results to DHHS.

Thank you for your continued vigilance and support.  Be safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 8, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:15 p.m. today there are: 2,588(1) total cases; 1,891 Recovered; 301 Hospitalized and 99 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,739 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  There have been 63,790 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,954,236 with total deaths of 110,845.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 146 confirmed cases.

Under the Governor’s “Keep Maine Healthy” plan info, there are links to a map and website that do not list CRH as a Swab and Send site.   We have submitted our information to be added to the website ‘Get-Tested-COVID19’ but have not received an update on how long it takes the system to update. We have also reached out directly to the Governor’s office and Maine CDC to ensure the map utilized on the website is updated as well.  With more testing info sites sure to pop up, please let Community Relations know of anywhere you notice that CRH is not listed as a Swab and Send site for testing.

The Mills Administration announced today that it will quadruple COVID-19 testing capacity at the State lab, develop testing sites throughout Maine, and allow more people in Maine with elevated risk of exposure to get tested for the virus. The Governor feels dramatically expanding testing capacity, which will come online in July, will be critical to protecting the health of Maine people as well as visitors this summer.  A new mobile lab in partnership with IDEXX Laboratories will be anchored at the State lab in Augusta. DHHS plans to develop “swab and send” locations across Maine to ensure that 90 percent of residents can get tested within 30 minutes of their home. Additionally, the State is making testing available to more people by providing a standing order allowing individuals at elevated risk to get tested without an order from a health care provider.   More detailed information is available on the maine.gov website.

Thank you for your continued vigilance and support.  Be safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 5, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 2,482(1) total cases; 1,797 Recovered; 293 Hospitalized and 98 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,673 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  There have been 59,528 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,876,922 with total deaths of 108,334.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 136 confirmed cases.

Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah reported that this week the State received four cases of the broad-spectrum antiviral medication Remdesivir from FEMA. The shipment was divided and distributed to the four hospitals in Maine that have been designated to provide the medication to patients in need.  He stated more shipments are expected in June as well.

Maine DHHS announced this week that it is launching a new statewide campaign to emphasize the continued importance of public health measures that limit the spread of COVID-19, including physical distancing, wearing of cloth face coverings, and hand hygiene.   The “Keep It Maine” campaign (poster sample attached) encourages Maine people to continue taking actions that have helped to keep the state’s COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates low compared to other states. Adjusted for population size, as of Monday, Maine ranked 42nd highest in the nation in terms of positive cases; 40th in the nation in terms of deaths; 30th in terms of patients ever-hospitalized out of the 35 states reporting; and 15th in the percentage of people who have recovered out of the 41 states reporting.

“Maine people and businesses have limited the spread of COVID-19 by keeping to the Maine values that tie us together”, said DHHS Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “We stay the course and we work together to do whats right for our loved ones, friends, and neighbors. The campaigns theme is built around this shared achievement. Lets keep it up. Lets keep it Maine.”

Thank you for your continued vigilance and support.  Be safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 4, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:15 p.m. today there are: 2,446(1) total cases; 1,739 Recovered; 291 Hospitalized and 95 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,645 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  There have been 58,129 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,864,538 with total deaths of 107,765.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 136 confirmed cases.

In a sign that the COVID-19 crisis is becoming a way of life, the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC) has changed its Zoom update for hospitals from a weekly meeting to one that is every other week on Fridays.  When the crisis first hit, hospitals were meeting with the Maine CDC twice a week. That eventually changed to once a week. Lately, fewer hospitals have joined the calls and the Maine CDC has had less news to report.  There will be a call this Friday, which begins the new schedule.

The Mills Administration today announced additional business reopenings under the Governor’s rural reopening plan. Under the update, in 13 counties, tasting rooms and bars may open for outside service and gyms and fitness centers, nail salons, and tattoo and piercing parlors may open with added health and safety precautions beginning on Friday, June 12th. These establishments may reopen everywhere in all counties except for York, Cumberland, and Androscoggin Counties.  This update accelerates the reopening of bars and tasting rooms for outside service, as well as the reopening of tattoo and piercing parlors, all which were originally scheduled to reopen statewide as part of Stage 3 (July 1). It also allows gyms and fitness centers as well as nail salons to resume operations in these 13 counties. Consistent with past practice, these businesses must comply with added health and safety precautions in the form of COVID-19 Prevention Checklists as a condition of voluntary reopening.

“Nearly a month after many businesses in these thirteen counties reopened, we continue to see low case counts in those counties,” said Governor Mills. “As a result, we are accelerating the reopening of some additional businesses in these areas, but with added health and safety precautions. I continue to urge Maine people to take steps to protect themselves and others, including wearing a face covering, staying six feet apart whenever possible, and practicing good hygiene such as washing your hands frequently. As we continue to gradually reopen, steps like these will be critical to protecting not only ourselves but others as well.”

The Mills Administration is also working to provide an alternative to the State’s 14-day quarantine that will protect the health and safety of Maine people and allow tourists to visit Maine safely and support small businesses.

Thank you for your continued vigilance and support.  Be safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 3, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 2,418(1) total cases; 1,699 Recovered; 285 Hospitalized and 95 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,624 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of June 3 there have been 56,428 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,841,629 with total deaths of 106,696.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 135 confirmed cases.

I’m very disappointed to report that the court did not decide in our favor for the PPP injunction today.  The only remedy is through the district court that has the option to uphold or overturn the decision.  It will be 2-3 weeks before we hear the district court’s judgment.  If the decision is upheld we do have the option to appeal.  Another option is to turn to the political route to look for a change, but that is much more difficult and takes more time.

You may have noticed that the COVID-19 cases for our county were reduced from 2 to 1 overnight.  I can only assume that one of the cases was reallocated to a different county.

The community’s motorcade in honor of our staff today was full of community support and pride.  Pictures and a video will be available soon on the hospital’s Facebook page.

The Department of Health and Human Services this week announced a $628 million agreement with Emergent BioSolutions to advance manufacturing capabilities and capacity for a potential COVID-19 vaccine and therapeutics as part of Operation Warp Speed.  Operation Warp Speed is a public private partnership intended to accelerate development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics by January.   “Before a vaccine is even approved, Emergent’s manufacturing capabilities will pave the way for drug companies with candidates approaching approval to begin turning out doses,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Securing more manufacturing capacity here in America for candidates that make it to the final stages of Operation Warp Speed will help get a vaccine to American patients without a day wasted.”

Thank you for your continued vigilance and support.  Be safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 2, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 2,377(1) total cases; 1,646 Recovered; 287 Hospitalized and 94 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,599 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has sent out 90 COVID-19 tests and has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of June 2 there have been 54,676 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,820,523 with total deaths of 105,644.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 133 confirmed cases.

The funds pumped into the healthcare system over the last few weeks by the federal government have provided some relief to hospitals across the nation.  But these funds do not come with no strings or responsibilities attached.   The hospital must file quarterly reports detailing how the funds are used, maintain extensive records and comply with audits.  Audits can occur up to three years after the funds were distributed, which means the potential for a demand to return funds is looming over healthcare organizations for just as long.   CRH staff in the finance department has worked diligently since the onset of the pandemic to track and trace all potential information that may possibly be needed in the future.

I would like to remind staff about being ever vigilant on potential breaches of patient confidentiality or hospital systems via email.   In a time of crisis, such as COVID-19 pandemic, efforts to hack and gain unauthorized access seem to increase.  Emails can easily seem valid as many issues we are currently dealing with are new to everyone.  Please be alert and suspicious of emails from people you have not had prior communication with.   Do not click unknown links or open attachments.   It’s better to be safe than sorry and reach out to IT if there is any question.

Don’t forget tomorrow is the community drive to celebrate our staff.   The motorcade will begin around 1 p.m. circling around the hospital, then through the Rehab/Surgical Services parking lot, and then up through the CRMS parking lot area.

Thank you for your continued vigilance and support.  Be safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

June 1, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 2,349(1) total cases; 1,586 Recovered; 284 Hospitalized and 89 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,580 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of May 30 there have been 51,025 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,798,298 with total deaths of 104,658.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 132 confirmed cases.

A community drive to celebrate our staff is scheduled for Wednesday of this week.   The motorcade will begin around 1 p.m. circling around the hospital, then through the Rehab/Surgical Services parking lot, and then up through the CRMS parking lot area.

Yesterday Governor Mills new Executive Order went into effect.  “It is my responsibility to protect the health and wellbeing of Maine people and to support our economy. Throughout this reopening process, I will continue to fight to strike that balance,” said Governor Mills. “This Executive Order allows for the gradual lifting of restrictions as we continue to reopen our economy. I continue to ask Maine people to stay home whenever possible, not only to protect themselves but to protect others as well, like our frontline workers. If and when you do go out, I urge you to stay local and shop local, to stay at least six feet apart from others, to wear a face covering, and, as always, to wash your hands and practice good hygiene. Staying vigilant will save lives and allow us to safely reopen our economy.”   All of the specifics can be found on the Maine.gov website.  The Order will remain in effect until rescinded.

Last week the World Health Organization temporarily paused tests of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment in order to review safety concerns.  A retrospective review detailed in a medical journal found that coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing.  The review consisted of 96,000 hospitalized patients diagnosed with the coronavirus in six continents, the largest analysis of medical records on the drug, between December and April.  The safety data will be reviewed by the WHO’s Data Safety Monitoring Board to determine if the trail should continue regarding hydroxychloroquine’s use in treating COVID-19.

Thank you for your continued vigilance and support.  Be safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 29, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 2,226(1) total cases; 1,458 Recovered; 264 Hospitalized and 85 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,490 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of May 27 there have been 46,929 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,731,035 with total deaths of 102,201.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 128 confirmed cases.

Month End financials for April were reported earlier this week to the Finance Committee.   Last month the organization saw an average reduction of 52% in operating revenue which equated to an overall operations loss of $803,000.  Cares Act relief funds received in April totaled just under $800,000.  According to an article in Modern Healthcare, average hospital operating margins fell to a negative 29% in April, which is a drop of 282% compared to last year.  CRH is not immune to the national healthcare issues as is demonstrated by our financials last month. While the final bottom line was a tolerable loss of just over $3,500 for April, that was largely due to the influx of relief funds – which will not be able to be counted on for the foreseeable future.  The need to see our volumes start trending back up is essential for our long term stability.

Please find attached a letter from Senator Angus King received by many who had reached out to him recently asking for needed support and assistance for CRH.  His letter relays the various ways he has been able to show support for rural hospitals in general, and CRH specifically, through the pandemic.

Lastly, I would like to thank Rod and Amanda Tirrell for their work on the flower bed at our Main Entrance sign.  They volunteered the labor and donated the materials to brighten up an area that most all staff see in honor of our employees.   As said in their note to me, “Even in the darkest of times, there can still be light.”   Please take a moment to notice their efforts as you come or go onto the campus.

Thank you for your continued vigilance and support.  Be safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 28, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 2,189(1) total cases; 1,402 Recovered; 264 Hospitalized and 84 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,462 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of May 27 there have been 46,929 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,709,996 with total deaths of 101,002.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 128 confirmed cases.

Yesterday’s trial for the PPP Injunction went very well as it started at 9:00 a.m. and it ended at 4:10 p.m.  The evidence portion of the trial also went really well with submissions of our personal declarations and financial witness Jennifer Griffey, CFO, who did a fabulous job.  The Judge has a factual record that will let him rule in our favor, if he believes the law supports that.  He has already ruled in our favor once in a preliminary fashion, so we’re optimistic that he will stick to his view of the law as a result of this trial.  The Judge will issue a decision by Wednesday–June 3, more to come—and fingers crossed!

Furthermore work has also continued in analyzing all financial improvement options to best enable the hospital to successfully come through the COVID-19 pandemic and Chapter 11.  This includes evaluating items such as our health insurance product, vendor contracts and our service lines.   We continue to pursue all options to ensure the future financial stability of the organization.

Thank you for your continued vigilance and support.  Be safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 27, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:30 p.m. today there are: 2,137(1) total cases; 1,357 Recovered; 260 Hospitalized and 81 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,430 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  The CRH lab has sent out 81 tests as of today with one result outstanding.  As of May 20 there have been 46,929 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,689,145 with total deaths of 99,674.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 122 confirmed cases.

The drug Remdesivir is a broad-spectrum antiviral medication that has gained traction as a COVID-19 treatment.  The US Department of Health and Human Services oversees the national supply of the drug for use with COVID-19 patients.   The Maine supply was distributed to four hospitals: Maine Medical Center, Central Main Medical Center, Maine General Medical Center and Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center.  The supply of Remdesivir is very limited and is only to be used on patients who are severely ill and have a large oxygen requirement with or without ventilator support.  Patients seen at CRH who would qualify for the limited use of this drug would be transferred to one of the facilities with critical care beds, most likely Eastern Maine Medical Center.

With the relaxed tiers for COVID-19 testing we anticipate more inquiries from community members for testing without a physician order or medical indication of need.  A process will be developed to educate patients on the potential for their insurance company to NOT cover the cost of testing if they do not present with symptoms or exposure.

The CRH has lab has begun to encounter orders for COVID-19 antibody tests.   Patients who present with orders for the antibody testing are able to present through registration and then directly to the lab for the blood draw.

Thank you for your continued vigilance and support.  Be safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 26, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:30 p.m. today there are: 2,109(1) total cases; 1,318 Recovered; 258 Hospitalized and 79 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,415 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of May 20 there have been 38,154 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,672,714 with total deaths of 98,636.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 122 confirmed cases.

The trial for the injunction filed against the SBA regarding the PPP will be tomorrow.  I will be attending the proceedings from the hospital via Zoom.

Today Governor Janet Mills announced that the Maine DHHS is significantly expanding contact tracing. Contact tracing is the process of identifying, assessing, and protecting people who have been exposed to a disease to prevent transmission to others. Taken together, testing and contract tracing enable Maine to identify, investigate, and isolate individuals with COVID-19 to prevent its spread in the absence of effective treatment or a vaccine.

Maine’s contact tracing strategy has three components:

  1. Increasing Personnel: The Maine CDC currently has a contact tracing and case investigation team of approximately 30 people. It expects to more than quadruple this team as needed through the following steps: Immediately enlisting the help of 50 trained volunteers, who have offered their skills through Maine Responds, a system to tap into health care, public health, and emergency volunteers to respond to emergency situations. These volunteers will assist for at least two months and will start training the week of June 1, 2020.  Begin hiring up to 125 contracted staff over time for up to 12 months to supplement Maine CDC’s work. This hiring will be staggered based on COVID-19 trend data and will include those with proficiency in multiple languages.
  2. Deploying Sara Alert System: Maine CDC has deployed a new tool called Sara Alert to support monitoring and reporting of COVID-19 in Maine. The Sara Alert system, which is also used by several other states, allows individuals who have been diagnosed or potentially exposed to COVID-19 to report daily symptoms through web, text, email, or calls. The tool provides real-time insights and increased reporting capability to support containment of the virus. Maine CDC began using Sara Alert last week and already has logged 345 contacts in the system as of May 25. Sara Alert is free for use by federal, state, territorial, tribal, and local governments, and regional health organizations. Sara Alert has enabled public health workers to monitor and respond to the coronavirus pandemic and to coordinate and direct care where it is most needed.
  3. Expanding Social Supports: Staying apart from people for a period of time to protect the public health is a challenge for all, let alone for those who may have low incomes or struggle with housing, food security, transportation, mental or substance use disorders, or access to affordable healthcare and childcare. To address these challenges, DHHS is expanding its social supports for people isolated or quarantined because of exposure to COVID-19 by contracting with Community Action Programs (CAPs). Once finalized, these arrangements will offer individuals in isolation or quarantine social supports such as delivered meals, prescriptions, and behavioral health counselling.

Thank you for your continued vigilance and support.  Be safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 22, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 1,948(1) total cases; 1,192 Recovered; 240 Hospitalized and 75 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,299 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of May 13 there have been 33,035 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,588,322 with total deaths of 95,276.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 121 confirmed cases.

Yesterday the US DHHS announced that AstraZeneca has a vaccine candidate that is projected to make available 300 million doses possibly as early as October. Phase three clinical studies are set to start in the summer.  This is the fourth vaccine candidate that has received support to move forward through the White House’s Operation Warp Speed, a public-private effort to facilitate, at an unprecedented pace, the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 countermeasures.   The Food and Drug Administration must still approve an emergency use authorization or licensure in order to make the vaccine available.

Governor Janet Mills announced yesterday that the State of Maine has now received $52.7 million in Federal grant funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to bolster epidemiological and laboratory capacity to respond to infectious diseases, particularly COVID-19.   The State will use this funding to enhance its ability to prevent, detect, and mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Maine by expanding lab capacity and testing sites across Maine in the coming weeks and months.

Governor Mills outlined the State’s three primary goals for the $52.7 million investment:

  1. Expanding the State’s Lab Capacity: The State is aiming to expand, both in the short- and longer-term, capacity at the State’s Health and Environmental Testing Laboratory, including expanding physical space and increasing staffing to increase the number of testing options. In the longer-term, the State intends to accelerate the construction of its new laboratory in Augusta, which broke ground prior to COVID-19.
  2. Bolstering Rural Hospital Lab Capacity: COVID-19 has underscored the long-standing challenges rural residents face in accessing timely healthcare. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) will work with rural hospitals to expand laboratory capacity to help them respond to COVID-19 and other infectious disease outbreaks.
  3. Establishing Drive-Through Testing Sites: As the State lab ramps up testing capacity, the State also aims to increase the number of testing sites outside of healthcare office settings. Currently, Maine has 38 testing sites outside of office settings. The State is exploring options to partner with businesses and others to establish new so-called drive-through “swab and send” sites in Maine. This would allow primary care providers to recommend patients get testing in sites that are both accessible and safe.

The Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine Center for Disease Control are in the initial planning stages and will unveil more detailed plans in the coming weeks.

Please have a Safe and Happy Memorial Day weekend.  Your commitment to caring for our community does not go unnoticed.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 21, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 1,877(1) total cases; 1,145 Recovered; 235 Hospitalized and 73 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,239 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of May 13 there have been 33,035 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,562,714 with total deaths of 93,863.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 121 confirmed cases.

Update to staff masking:  Staff must wear masks with all patient encounters and in all public access areas (lobby’s, halls, etc) until further notice.   We want to ensure staff exhibit proper masking as per the CDC recommendations to ensure community members feel safe coming to our facility to receive healthcare services.

We continue to prepare for the court date regarding the PPP injunction. The trial date is Wednesday, May 27 against the SBA for a final ruling.

Yesterday the CRH sponsored American Red Cross Blood Drive was held to assist with the depleted blood product needs.  There was a great turnout with a 90% show rate for appointments.   We reached 126% goal attainment through collection of 44 units: 29 whole blood and 15 power red units.   The support of the blood donor community is greatly appreciated on behalf of patients in need of blood.  Much thanks to the Knights of Columbus for allowing use of the facility for the blood drive and to staff volunteers Linda Gralenski and Laurel Perkins.

Please have a Safe and Happy Memorial Day weekend.  Your commitment to caring for our community does not go unnoticed.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 20, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 1,819(1) confirmed cases; 1,110 Recovered; 231 Hospitalized and 73 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,207 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of May 13 there have been 33,035 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,541,110 with total deaths of 92,712.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 120 confirmed cases.

Although today saw the state’s biggest jump in positive cases of COVID-19 with 78 new cases since yesterday, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said that, “The news is actually better than it sounds because the state’s positivity rate has dropped.   In the past week, there were 7,574 tests performed in the state.   The rate of positive results from those tests is 5.4 percent. That’s a 10 percent drop from last week’s 5.9 percent positivity rate.  A positivity rate is used by public health officials to gauge whether increasing positive cases are the result of increased spread of a disease or because of increased testing finding more cases. Public health officials also use positivity rates to evaluate if enough tests are being given.”

Moreover, Dr. Shah stated that, “The ideal positivity rate is around 2 percent.” While Maine is above that rate, the state is lower than the national average of about 10 percent. “Hot spots are as high as 15 percent and that the Maine CDC plans to soon start posting daily positivity rates and additional data details,” he said.

Reminder that the free staff entrée or sandwich courtesy of Board of Director member Linda Gralenski and husband Fred is tomorrow.    Board chair Ron McAlpine and wife Diane have also made another donation towards staff lunch.  The date will be determined and announced for next week.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 19, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 1,741(1) confirmed cases; 1,561 Recovered; 1,088 Hospitalized and 73 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,170 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of May 13 there have been 33,035 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,517,681 with total deaths of 90,802.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 120 confirmed cases.

We currently have motions we have filed pending with the courts to assist with our efforts in securing a lender for the PPP application.  The court motion will protect the lenders if the SBA is successful at the trial next week.

Through the COVID-19 crisis, several organizations created educational resources for healthcare workers.

  • COVID-19 Healthcare Workforce Virtual Toolkit, from the assistant secretary for preparedness and response (ASPR). Recently updated; includes new content on healthcare workforce training resources, workforce surge staffing strategies, considerations for pre-hospital/emergency medical services (EMS) settings, and more.
  • COVID-19 Clinical Rounds Peer-to-Peer Virtual Communities of Practice are a collaborative effort between ASPR, the National Emerging Special Pathogen Training and Education Center, and Project ECHO. These interactive virtual learning sessions aim to create a peer-to-peer learning network where clinicians from the U.S. and abroad who have more experience treating patients with COVID-19 share their challenges and successes; a generous amount of time for participant Q & A is also provided. Three webinar topics are covered every week:

o EMS: Patient Care and Operations (Mondays, 12 to 1 p.m.),

o Critical Care: Lifesaving Treatment and Clinical Operations (Tuesdays, 12 to 1 p.m.)

o Emergency Department: Patient Care and Clinical Operations (Thursdays, 12 to 1 p.m.)

Previous webinars are also accessible on the website.

  • Addressing Emotions on the Frontlines, from the American Hospital Association (AHA), provides techniques and scripting for front-line providers to use when patients are experiencing increased emotion, worry or frustration. Using empathy, active listening and transparency enables hospital staff to provide support for patients and their families, build trusting relationships and diffuse conflicts even in times of crisis.
  • Proactive Conversations that Support Providers and Patients, also from AHA, is a resource that also provides scripting and support for front-line staff to identify and document a patient’s language preference, emergency contacts, and advance directives to ensure patient communication preferences and treatment preferences are understood and respected throughout the continuum of care.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 18, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:15 p.m. today there are: 1713(1) confirmed cases; 1533 Recovered; 1053 Hospitalized and 71 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1154 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of May 13 there have been 33,035 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,500,753 with total deaths of 90,312.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 120 confirmed cases.

Today the Maine CDC rescinded the testing priorities and tiers for COVID-19 testing.   The training and quality assurance on the new equipment from IDEXX has been completed which increases the testing capacity significantly.   The new guidelines are:

  • For person who has one or more symptoms that are consistent with COVID-19. Testing must be ordered by a clinician.

  • For those without symptoms who may be at risk for transmitting COVID-19 to others. As examples, these may include but are not limited to:
    • Asymptomatic close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases in an outbreak setting.
    • Asymptomatic health care workers, including first responders, who have had contact with or exposure to a confirmed COVID-19 case; or
    • Asymptomatic persons tested as part of a sentinel COVID-19 disease surveillance program established by Maine CDC.

In order to maintain laboratory capacity for the activities noted above, the Maine CDC will not test specimens collected by congregate facilities that choose to conduct universal testing of their staff and residents when that recommendation has not been approved by Maine CDC. However, Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah told healthcare providers in a call that the Maine CDC is open to discussing such testing.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 15, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 1,603(1) confirmed cases; 993 Recovered; 211 Hospitalized and 69 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,079 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of May 13 there have been 33,035 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,400,500 with total deaths of 84,985.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 120 confirmed cases.

During the last few months, we have had a few customer complaints and I’ve also been asked by some community members and even a few employees, what customer service means to me as a CEO? First of all, in my opinion, the true secret to great customer service is not a secret at all! The old adage of “the customer is always right” applies as much for non-profit organizations, such as our hospital as it does in for-profit organizations such as stores and restaurants. It is important that the individuals we serve always feel that they are important, valued, and that they are right…even in situations when they are not!

Keeping an open ear, as well as open mind, goes a long way with customer service today. It is amazing how appreciative our customers can be when staff members take the time to really listen to their thoughts and concerns. Listening alone, although important, does not satisfy a customer’s need to feel that they are valued. In order to deliver great customer service, you must follow up your conversation or interaction promptly by personally confirming that you have heard the customer’s concern or idea and reassured them that we intend to take the next steps to take action on the customer’s request. Better yet, if possible, see their concern through the process instead of handing their concern off to another person. Customers will remember our hospital in a more positive light because they are always treated as an individual and with the respect deserved.

One example that comes to mind to demonstrate the above is the way that we treat a patient who arrives at our hospital for scheduling an appointment for testing. Upon processing the test order, it is discovered that additional documentation is necessary in order for us to safely perform the requested test. Do we tell that patient to get the necessary documentation and bring it back or fax it to us, or do we have the patient sign a release for medical information and make the call to their provider for the patient our self?  To me the answer is the latter, going the extra mile to help our customer get the proper documentation and to ensure that we receive it so we can schedule the test accordingly. It is very important that the customer leaves us with a positive experience and feeling about our clinic and/or hospital.

Remember, personal attributes that customers expect from people who serve them are to always carry a smile, be polite, make eye contact, speak softly, listen with genuine interest, follow through, follow-up and be consistent. With that formula CRH will prosper and will always be considered a quality health care provider that our customers want to use.

Board Member Linda Gralenski and her husband Fred have once again donated funds to provide lunch for staff.   On Thursday, May 21 staff will be provided an entrée or sandwich via the donation from the Gralenski’s.  Their support and many others in our community have shown how valued all hospital staff are.  Thank you, Linda and Fred!

We have been working to coordinate a blood drive in Calais since the need became so heightened with the COVID-19 crisis.   Next week on Wednesday, May 20, 1-6 p.m. a blood drive will be held at the Knights of Columbus Hall.  You can visit the redcross.org website under the Give Blood link to find the drive and see availability for any open appointments.    Anyone wishing to volunteer for a shift at the blood drive please see DeeDee Travis in the Community Relations office:  deedee@calaishospital.org  or 454-9227.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 14, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 1,565(1) confirmed cases; 1,405 Recovered; 207 Hospitalized and 69 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1,055 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of May 13 there have been 33,035 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,400,500 with total deaths of 84,074.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 120 confirmed cases.

Governor Janet Mills has extended the State of Emergency through June 11.   A State of Civil Emergency in part enables Maine’s access to critical federal aid to boost response efforts. The State of Emergency proclamation is separate and distinct from the Governor’s Executive Orders and from the Restarting Maine’s Economy plan. The Governor’s Executive Orders and the Restarting Maine’s Economy plan remain in effect and unchanged.

Today administration took part in the exit interview with the court appointed Patient Care Ombudsman (Mr. Jeff Brown).  He will prepare a report on the quality of patient care and process improvement at CRH for the court.  Thank you to all staff who took part in meetings, interviews, provided documentation and gave feedback to Mr. Brown.

I have been working with legal counsel to develop a term sheet (a non-binding document used to start negotiations) which could lead to a more formal document or memorandum of understanding with a potential buyer of our assets.  Taking part in this work proactively keeps all our options open for either a buyer; a working collaborative or affiliation with another organization; or for us to remain independent.

The meeting of the Finance Committee is next week.  I will be able to share the financials for April month end by the end of next week.

I would like to do a shout out for the following people who have stepped forward to help improve patient care, safety, efficiencies and productivity here at CRH:

  1. Susan Casey, Asst. Clinical Diet Consultant: Due to Mona being out with a medical condition, Susan has stepped-up in this role to ensure that our patients dietary needs are met daily and is doing very well. We thank you, Susan!
  2. Billie-Jo Leighton, Director of Lab/Medical Imaging: Billie-Jo has graciously accepted the added role of managing the Medical Imaging Department. She will be work closely with Dr. Leatherman as they work toward operational improvements in the Imaging Department. We thank you Billie-Jo for all your dedication and hard work in this endeavor.
  3. Shelly Bodkin, Mgr. of Education and Infection Control: A hearty thank you to Shelly and her team for the great job of screening staff, patients, and visitors with temperature checks, questions, etc. every day, throughout the day to keep us safe from the COVID-19. Shelly did a fantastic job of putting this team together on such a short notice and maintained the team throughout the pandemic. Great work team!
  4. Steve McFadden, Mgr. of IS: Steve just completed the revised phone directory…no easy task to say the least! Great job Steve to you and your team to get this revised as quickly as you did.

Folks, if you see these individuals in your daily travels…please give them a shout out!

Our Plan of Correction that we submitted to DHHS from the survey the conducted on the week of 3/2-6 has been rejected by the DHHS and will be resubmitted tomorrow. We certainly hope that the DHHS will accept our revised plan of correction.

Lastly, I’m saddened to hear that the “Fly-Over Tribute to Medical Personnel” by the KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from the 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor or flying Maine Air National Guard excluded CRH! Instead, today it flew over MDI Hospital, then traveled to Machias and Downeast Community Hospital before heading up North to Houlton, Presque Isle, Fort Kent and then coming back via Caribou, Millinocket, Lincoln and Dover-Foxcroft. This is a shame in my view. Maybe we can celebrate together with creating our own “Fly-Over” to celebrate the time and efforts that all our medical team has put forth to protect our community from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 13, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 1515(1) confirmed cases; 943 Recovered; 204 Hospitalized and 66 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (1013 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 cases in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.  As of May 6 there have been 22,092 negative test results in Maine.   Total US cases is 1,379,756 with total deaths of 83,150.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 120 confirmed cases.

With the COVID-19 information and needs slowing down for the moment, our COVID-19 morning Huddles with Management staff is changing to once per week on Wednesdays.  I am also considering changing this daily update to twice per week.  Please send me your input or thoughts if you feel this should not be adjusted.

As mentioned in the Bangor Daily News article today, we continue to seek the support of a financial institution in filing our application for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  As might be expected with a non-profit organization in Chapter 11, applying for financial support is not a clear cut or simple process – even with the temporary injunction granted by the courts  in regards to the PPP.   The continued media coverage by the Bangor Daily News, and other news outlets, shines a light on the plight of CRH and many other rural hospitals that are struggling to keep the doors open – even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We remain vigilant in our efforts to secure all available funding to ensure the hospital’s long term viability.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 12, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 1477(1) confirmed cases; 913 Recovered; 202 Hospitalized and 65 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (985 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   Total US cases is 1,358,901 with total deaths of 81,805.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 120 confirmed cases.

The Maine Hospital Association, in collaboration with the Maine Healthcare Association, has released a protocol to help hospitals and skilled nursing facilities manage the transfer of patients from hospitals to nursing homes.   A copy of the document is attached to this memo.   The one-page document describes various scenarios–ranging from patients with no COVID-19 symptoms to those recovered from the illness to those who are still exhibiting symptoms but are not sick enough to remain hospitalized.    “We are hopeful this effort finds some balance between the need to keep our nursing homes safe while also recognizing the need to keep patient flow moving,” said MHA President Steven Michaud.

Maine residents who are uninsured are entitled to receive coverage for testing and diagnosis of COVID-19 at no cost, with coverage to be administered through the MaineCare program. Coverage includes testing for the COVID-19 diagnosis as well as limited related services, such as office visits and evaluations and telehealth triage and screening, but it does not include coverage for services for the treatment of COVID-19.   MaineCare is asking providers to help get the word out by informing patients who are uninsured about this temporary coverage option.  Information on how to apply is available on the Maine.gov website, as well as a printable application.  For those patients who have lost their employer-based insurance but earn too much to qualify for MaineCare, the state is reminding people about CoverME.gov, a resource for finding affordable health insurance options.

Don’t forget the National Hospital Week soup luncheon sponsored by the Events Committee for all staff tomorrow.  On behalf of our Board of Trustees and Board of Directors, we thank you all for your hard work, dedication and support during these trying times for your families, our Hospital and our community.

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 11, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 1462(1) confirmed cases; 872 Recovered; 200 Hospitalized and 65 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (976 or 67%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   Total US cases is 1,340,643 with total deaths of 79,935.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 120 confirmed cases.

As you may have heard on the State news stations over the weekend, Governor Mills announced on Friday that restaurants, campgrounds and retail stores in 12 of 16 counties will be allowed to open with certain limitations.  Under the plan, retail stores and restaurants will be permitted to open to in-store and some dine-in service – with enhanced safety precautions – in counties where community transmission is not present. Those counties are Aroostook, Piscataquis, Washington, Hancock, Somerset, Franklin, Oxford, Kennebec, Waldo, Knox, Lincoln, and Sagadahoc.

Retail stores in these counties are permitted to open on Monday, May 11 with added health and safety precautions. These include, but are not limited to: restricting the number of customers in a store at one time, enhanced cleaning practices and touch-free transactions whenever possible.   Restaurants in these same counties are permitted to open on Monday, May 18, with added health and safety precautions, including physically distancing customers, ensuring employees follow enhanced hygiene and sanitation practices, and controlling customer flow through reservations whenever possible.

Additionally, remote campsites as well as sporting camps are also permitted to open with public health safeguards in these same counties only on Monday, May 18 to Maine residents or those who have completed the 14 day quarantine.  On May 11, gyms across the state can conduct outside exercise classes with 10 or fewer participants, or one-on-one personal training inside the gym.

Gov. Mills said compared to other states, Maine is doing well. Adjusted for population size, Maine as of yesterday ranked sixth lowest in the nation in terms of positive cases; 36th in the nation in terms of deaths; 27th in terms of patients ever-hospitalized out of the 32 states reporting; and 10th in the percentage of people who have recovered out of the 38 states reporting.

Happy Hospital Week to all staff.  Thank you for your continued hard work and dedication in these uncertain times.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 8, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 1374(1) confirmed cases; 836 Recovered; 194 Hospitalized and 63 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (907 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   Total US cases is 1,263,052 with total deaths of 76,101.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 120 confirmed cases.

There have been clinical updates and guidance this week in regards to treatment of patients with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.  A change in guidance on isolation has been issued by the CDC.  The FDA has also issued an authorization for an antiviral drug to be used in treatment.

The U.S. CDC has extended the period during which patients who are positive for COVID-19 should remain in isolation (if they aren’t hospitalized) or remain in transmission-based precautions (if hospitalized) from 7 to 10 days.  If not using a test-based strategy, persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms may discontinue isolation or be removed from transmission-based precautions under the following conditions:

  • At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery, defined as fever free without the use of fever-reducing medications and improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and
  • At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.

Persons with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 who have not had any symptoms may discontinue isolation or be removed from Transmission-Based Precautions under the following conditions:

  • At least 10 days have passed since the date of their first positive COVID-19 test, assuming they have not subsequently developed symptoms since their positive test. If they develop symptoms, then the symptom-based or test-based strategy should be used. Note, because symptoms cannot be used to gauge where these individuals are in the course of their illness, it is possible that the duration of viral shedding could be longer or shorter than 10 days after their first positive test.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Gilead Sciences an emergency use authorization for the investigational antiviral drug remdesivir to treat suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in adults and children hospitalized with severe disease. FDA previously allowed for study of the drug under clinical trials, as well as expanded access use for individual patients and through a multi-patient expanded access program coordinated by Gilead. The National Institutes of Health last week reported that a clinical trial provided preliminary indications that hospitalized patients with advanced COVID-19 and lung involvement who received remdesivir recovered faster than similar patients who received a placebo.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 7, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 1330(1) confirmed cases; 787 Recovered; 192 Hospitalized and 62 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (874 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   Total US cases is 1,245,622 with total deaths of 75,054.     In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 120 confirmed cases.

Governor Janet Mills announced today a partnership with Westbrook based Idexx Laboratories to dramatically increase testing capacity for COVID-19.  Idexx will be providing an additional 5,000 testing kits a week to the State laboratory, as well as, loaning equipment to be able to process the tests.  This increase in capacity for testing will allow the prioritization categories requirements to be lifted.  The testing kits produced by Idexx received FDA approval just this morning.

Dr. Nirav Shaw of Maine CDC said the increased testing capacity should be in place by the end of next week.  He also noted that with an increase in testing we will probably also see an increase in new cases.    Public health experts say that wide spread testing, a downward trend in cases for at least two weeks, and robust tracking and tracing of people who came into contact with an infected person are critical components for reopening an economy without overloading the health care system with new cases.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 6, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 1254(1) confirmed cases; 766 Recovered; 191 Hospitalized and 62 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (813 or 65%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   Total US cases is 1,214,572 with total deaths of 71,982.     In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 120 confirmed cases.

I am happy to report that we received a payment that was released this week as part of the second wave of the CARES Relief funding.  This funding is part of the $10 billion that was allocated for rural general acute care hospitals, critical access hospitals, rural health clinics and community health centers.  CRH received $3.8 million as part of these funds this morning.   A funds payment specific to the services of the Rural Health Clinic is expected soon as well.  We also continue to pursue the PPP funds to assist with our goal of reaching long term sustainability for our community.

These funds are greatly appreciated and desperately needed to assist in filling the gap left by an over 50% drop in our patient volumes and increased expenses preparing for COVID-19.      If the trend with our reduced volumes continues as anticipated for the next few months, we project a potential year end decline in revenue of approximately $5 – $8 million.   While these funds do not completely fill the projected revenue loss for the year, the relief funds combined with the reduction in force and ongoing savings efforts give us the potential to get to the other side of this pandemic and Chapter 11 process.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 5, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 1226(1) confirmed cases; 741 Recovered; 187 Hospitalized and 61 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (797 or 65%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   Total US cases is 1,181,885 with total deaths of 69,079.     In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 118 confirmed cases.

There have been 58 COVID-19 tests collected and sent out from the CRH Laboratory. All results have come back negative, with only two recently conducted tests still outstanding.

A new report released yesterday confirms the tremendous financial strain that hospitals and health systems on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19 are under. The AHA report estimates a total financial impact of $202.6 billion in losses resulting from COVID-19 expenses and lost revenue for hospitals and health systems over the four-month period from March 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020 — or an average of over $50 billion in losses a month.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 4, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:30 p.m. today there are: 1205(1) confirmed cases; 720 Recovered; 186 Hospitalized and 57 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (777 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   Total US cases is 1,172,670 with total deaths of 68,326.     In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 118 confirmed cases.

Some in our community have already responded to our call for donations of homemade cloth masks.  We have received a donation from the area’s Quilters Guild, and expect to receive more over the next few days/weeks.  Rod Tirrell has the donated masks in his office and will provide them as long as the supply lasts.  We will let you know as soon as more become available.

The Food and Drug Administration today said it is adopting more stringent standards for COVID-19 antibody tests. The agency will boost oversight through new standards of accuracy and require antibody test manufacturers to submit new information proving the testing quality. FDA said it also will require manufacturers to apply for emergency use authorization within 10 business days of their products’ release, with distribution suspended if the test cannot meet the agency’s specificity and sensitivity criteria.

Maine CDC Director Nirav Shah addressed antibody tests in his press conference today, noting that accuracy of the tests varies, and that some can’t differentiate between SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and other coronavirus antibodies. He said three questions need answering:

  1. Which test is being used?
  2. How will results be interpreted? Are the antibodies definitely SARS-CoV-2?
  3. What do we know about how long immunity will last?

Dr. Shah said the answers are changing quickly and what’s true now may change in a matter of weeks.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

May 1, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:45 p.m. today there are: 1123(1) confirmed cases; 657 Recovered; 177 Hospitalized and 55 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (712 or 63%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   Total US cases is 1,070,032 with total deaths of 63,019.     In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 118 confirmed cases.

With the Governor’s Stay Safe at Home order requiring face coverings in public settings where physical social distancing is difficult to maintain, all patients and visitors will be required to wear a face covering.  Face coverings do not need to be medical grade.  Non-medical masks, bandanas, scarves and cloth can be used.  To conserve Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for medical interactions, community members are asked to wear their own face coverings to the campus.  Staff who do not perform direct patient care or have close interactions with patients can now wear cloth masks as well.

Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the cloth face covering without assistance.  This action is to help prevent transmission from infected individuals who may or may not have symptoms of COVID-19 and is consistent with the community requirement to wear face coverings in public places.

To aid in the protection of our patients, staff and community, we have appealed to the community for help in creating homemade cloth masks.  Based on CDC guidelines, we are requiring all mask donations to feature a double layer of unused machine-washable cotton. Further guidelines and step-by-step mask tutorials from the CDC can be found here: bit.ly/3cdIEJt   Community members can drop mask donations at the Main Entrance desk for Community Relations or mail them to the hospital.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 30, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:45 p.m. today there are: 1095(1) confirmed cases; 631 Recovered; 170 Hospitalized and 53 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (691 or 63%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   Total US cases is 1,056,402 with total deaths of 61,867.     In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 118 confirmed cases.

As I mentioned before, CRH filed an injunction against the SBA for the exclusion of the Paycheck Protection Program funding.   Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln has also filed and injunction along with many other hospitals across the country.  The first hearing on the injunction is being held this afternoon in Federal Court

I want to remind staff to wear masks for all patient interactions.  Please utilize the surgical and N95 masks as the established protocols and procedures indicate.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 29, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 1056(1) confirmed cases; 615 Recovered; 166 Hospitalized and 52 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (675 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   Total US cases is 1,023,304 with total deaths of 58,965.     In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 118 confirmed cases.

The daily 8 a.m. COVID-19 Update meetings for management staff will be changed to meet three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.   With the slowing of the movement of COVID-19 within the State and no preparation needs outstanding, the group opted to decrease meetings unless an increased need develops. Participants of the bi-weekly meetings of the COVID-19 team with external partners have opted to halt and reconvene if the needs change or increase.

This week the U.S. CDC updated its COVID-19 testing priorities to include all symptomatic patients, regardless of age or hospitalization, as priorities to be tested.    The priorities of COVID-19 testing (Nucleic Acid or Antigen) are now:

High Priority

  • Hospitalized patients
  • Healthcare facility workers, workers in congregate living settings, and first responders with symptoms
  • Residents in long-term care facilities or other congregate living settings, including prisons and shelters, with symptoms
  • Persons identified through public health cluster and selected contact investigations

Priority

  • Persons with symptoms of potential COVID-19 infection, including: fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea and/or sore throat
  • Persons without symptoms who are prioritized by health departments or clinicians, for any reason, including but not limited to: public health monitoring, sentinel surveillance, or screening of other asymptomatic individuals according to state and local plans.

The CDC’s expanded testing criteria are part of the White House plan to Open Up America Again. Yesterday the Administration released a Testing Overview and a Testing Blueprint, which call for public/private partnerships to greatly expand testing and surveillance.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 28, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:45 a.m. today there are: 1040(1) confirmed cases; 585 Recovered; 163 Hospitalized and 51 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (666 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   Total US cases is 1,008,066 with total deaths of 57,812.     In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 118 confirmed cases.

The hospital continues efforts to apply for and benefit from the various CARES Act funding relief options.  Yesterday we filed an injunction in Federal Court to object against the hospital’s exclusion to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).  Other hospitals across the nation are doing this as well.  This will put a pause on funding being released and depleted before consideration can be given to the arguments for waivers.

Governor Janet Mills announced an added page to the State website with information describing the stages of a plan to gradually and safely restart Maine’s economy.  The website address is https://www.maine.gov/covid19/restartingmaine if you would like to review the plan.  The Governor’s plan includes a modified stay-at-home order effective May 1, and includes most of the restrictions of the current original order.   The first stage of the Mills plan also starts on May 1 and requires that people wear face cloths in public settings where physical distancing is difficult to maintain. Stage one also expands which businesses can reopen, as well as the activities that Mainers can participate in.

Businesses that can reopen under stage one includes, but is not limited to: Barber shops, hair salons, pet grooming, drive-in movie theaters and auto dealerships and car washes. Expanded activities included restricted use of golf and disc golf courses, guided outdoor activities, state-owned public land trails and historic sites. Coastal state parks will remain closed.   Gatherings of more than 10 people remains prohibited during stage one.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 27, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:45 a.m. today there are: 1023(1) confirmed cases; 549 Recovered; 161 Hospitalized and 51 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (655 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   Total US cases is 979,077 with total deaths of 55,563.     In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 118 confirmed cases.

Governor Janet Mills today announced that the Consensus Economic Forecasting Commission and the Revenue Forecasting Committee will convene off cycle to examine the economic ramifications of COVID-19 on State government’s revenues. These two groups are responsible for projecting revenues that is then used to determine the State budget.

Additionally, Governor Mills has instructed all departments of State government to freeze non-emergency spending and hiring and she is renewing her calls for the federal government to provide flexibility for states to use federal funding for expected revenue shortfalls.  All departments have also been instructed to apply an emergency basis scrutiny to spending and hiring. This includes freezing unencumbered balances for Fiscal Year 2019 and certain reserves in Fiscal Year 2020, as well as reviewing contractual obligations through the remainder of the Fiscal Year, which ends June 30. The Governor has also prohibited state employees from traveling out of state on state business.

Governor Mills, through the bipartisan National Governors Association, continues to press Congress and the Trump Administration to provide robust and flexible federal relief to offset expected revenue shortfalls that every state is confronting.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 24, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 965(1) confirmed cases; 499 Recovered; 152 Hospitalized and 47 deaths. The majority of these cases, (617 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County. CRH has had NO positive tests.  Johns Hopkins University reports total US cases at 884,004 with total deaths of 50,360.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 118 confirmed cases.

Governor Janet Mills today outlined her vision for a gradual and safe reopening of Maine’s economy amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, emphasizing four principles that will guide the State’s decision-making process and inviting Maine people to offer their ideas through a new portal launched by the Department of Economic and Community Development.

“While we all dream of going back to the way things were, we have to face the hard truth that the coronavirus continues to be a threat and that life will not return to normal soon. Instead, we have to invent a new normal – a different way of doing business, shopping, traveling, and recreating that keeps all of us safe,” said Governor Mills. “In the coming weeks, my Administration will continue to assess the impact of the coronavirus in Maine and engage with various sectors of the Maine economy to determine how they can safely reopen at the right time in the right way. This will be a gradual process to protect the health of Maine people while restarting our economy.”—Gov. Mills     Maine’s reopening will be driven first and foremost by public health considerations and guided by the following principles:

  1. Protecting Public Health: The State will continue to continue to rely on epidemiological data, such as case trends, hospitalization rates, recoveries and deaths, to inform decisions with the private sector regarding the appropriateness of lifting restrictions.
  2. Maintaining Health Care Readiness: Maine must maintain its capacity to respond to any surge of the virus. To that end, the State will continue to work closely with our hospitals and health systems to assess system capacity, including available hospital beds, ICU beds and ventilators, and will continue to procure and distribute personal protective equipment as needed to hospitals, nursing facilities, emergency services, and other frontline responders.
  3. Building Reliable and Accessible Testing: Testing capacity for all symptomatic people and sentinel disease surveillance are key elements of reopening various sectors of the economy. While the widespread availability of rapid testing remains a challenge, the State is actively seeking to expand testing to make it more accessible to Maine people.
  4. Prioritizing Public-Private Collaboration: Collaboration and leadership among businesses, employees, government entities, and the public is vital to develop, implement, oversee, and adapt guidelines and safe practices. Government alone cannot fix things, government doesn’t have all the answers; we need the best thinking of Maine people from every industry and every corner of the state to reimagine and reinvent how we do things in this state in a way that protects both lives and livelihoods.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Please be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 23, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:45 a.m. today there are: 937(1) confirmed cases; 485 Recovered; 150 Hospitalized and 44 deaths. The majority of these cases, (604 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County. CRH has had NO positive tests.  Johns Hopkins University reports total US cases at 856,209 with total deaths of 47,272.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 118 confirmed cases.

A new volunteer phone support service, the FrontLine WarmLine, launched to help Maine health care workers manage the stress of serving in the fight against COVID-19.  The FrontLine Warmline serves health care professionals, who are directly responding to the pandemic in Maine. The line is staffed by volunteer professionals activated through Maine Responds, including licensed psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, social workers, and nurse practitioners, who can help callers to deal with anxiety, irritability stress, poor sleep, grief or worry and, if needed, connect them with additional supports.   The FrontLine WarmLine is available from 8 am to 8 pm, 7 days a week by calling (207) 221-8196 or 866-367-4440. Text will be added soon.

Please utilize this service if there are needs or issues that you could use assistance dealing with. It is important for staff to take care of themselves so they are ready and able to take care of our community.

To address the declined revenue from low patient volumes, CRH Administration will be restructuring over the next few weeks in an effort to reduce expenditures.  A portion of this restructuring will be effective on 5/1/20 as follows:

  1. Mary Barnett, PHR—currently the Interim VP Quality and Compliance Officer will become the VP of Human Resources, Compliance Officer and Quality;
  2. Holly Amoth, MBA, SHRM-SCP—currently the VP of Human Resources, this position will be eliminated. Please join me in thanking Holly for all her tremendous help over her short tenure at CRH and wishing her the very best in all her future endeavors;
  3. Theresa Brown, LPN— will become the Director of Quality starting on Monday, April 27 and report directly to the VP of Human Resources. Moreover, this position will be a combination of the former Quality Manager and QM Data Coordinator duties. Please welcome Theresa to her new role at CRH.
  4. These changes represent a reduction of 2.8 full-time administrative positions.
 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 22, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:45 a.m. today there are: 907(1) confirmed cases; 455 Recovered; 144 Hospitalized and 39 deaths. The majority of these cases, (580 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County. CRH has had NO positive tests.  Johns Hopkins University reports total US cases at 835,316 with total deaths of 45,950.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 118 confirmed cases.

Additional funding was voted through yesterday for the Health Care Enhancement Act and Paycheck Protection Program– a $484 billion COVID-19 relief package – which includes an additional $75 billion for hospitals, health systems and other health care providers. The $75 billion, which is in addition to the $100 billion included as part of the last COVID-19 package, would reimburse eligible health care providers for health care-related expenses or lost revenues not otherwise reimbursed that are directly attributable to COVID-19. This package also includes an allocation of funding for rural health clinics and an additional $310 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

We anticipate we will receive less funds than the initial rounds for the general funding. The criteria and/or disqualifying conditions for these funding allocations are unknown, but we hope to hear on that by next week and will apply as eligibility allows.

As for the PPP, we have not heard anything on whether or not a waiver will be granted to hospitals that are currently in a C11. We certainly hope that our letters to our political leaders will have positive results in granting us the waiver we need to qualify for funding. Keep the letters flowing and more to come.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Please be safe!

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 21, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:45 a.m. today there are: 888(1) confirmed cases; 443 Recovered; 139 Hospitalized and 36 deaths. The majority of these cases, (569 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County. CRH has had NO positive tests.  Johns Hopkins University reports total US cases at 814,587 with total deaths of 43,796.  In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 118 confirmed cases.

The University of Texas at Austin has utilized cell phone data (geolocation info from millions of cell phones across the country) to model peak death rates in the State and across the Nation.  Other recently released models were using dates of statewide mandates and policies such as social distancing orders to develop predictions. The new model delivered three scenarios, the most likely one giving a 75% chance that COVID-19 deaths will reach their peak and begin the decline in about two more weeks.   Only time will tell.

We have been lucky to not have to close for elective services as of yet.  However, our volumes have sharply declined with shelter-in-place and social distancing orders.  With national news reporting how many hospitals have had to close for many services outside of emergency care many in our community may assume our services are on hold as well.   Please be sure to share with you know that services are open and available, especially those family or community members that may have underlying health conditions.  It is important for many in our community not to skip routine care.  Please encourage them to reach out to us if they have concerns as we may have alternative methods available now to receiving their care.

This week we have started to see increases in our lab and radiology testing. I believe that may be a direct result from the local FQHCs using telehealth instead of direct care office visits. Office visits for our providers are currently down 52%.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe! 

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 20. 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:15 a.m. today there are: 875(1) confirmed cases; 414 Recovered; 138 Hospitalized and 35 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (561 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   Total US cases is 746,625 with total deaths of  39,083.     In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 118 confirmed cases.

There have been concerns expressed or rumors by staff regarding our ability to make payroll on April 24th.  Please rest assured that payroll is covered.   We are actually able to cover payroll this week completely with hospital revenue and not using any of the federal dollars we received last week.   Additional CARES Act funds of $108,000 has been received from HRSA today as well. These funds are considered grants and therefore we do not have to pay them back.

Another round of economic funding is currently in the works at the Federal level and we still have no word on our ability to access or qualify for these funds once they are released.   We continue to encourage all of you to reach out to our legislators asking them to petition for our inclusion in the additional funds being released soon, especially for programs such as the PPP that could possibly be grant funds versus loans.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

 1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 17, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:45 a.m. today there are: 827(1) confirmed cases; 352 Recovered; 133 Hospitalized and 29 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (530 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There is one county out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of today, there are 117 confirmed cases.

CRH administration has been actively working on and investigating many options for long term viability while progressing through the Chapter 11 process.   The unexpected addition of dealing with COVID-19 preparations; the subsequent rapid and deep decline of our patient volumes; and the lack of external funding available to other hospitals but not CRH,  has significantly reduced the time we have to execute our plan to maintain hospital services in the Calais area on our own.   The sudden lack of revenue has put urgency on the need to quickly develop another plan to protect the region’s healthcare services.

Therefore, one of the options available to CRH in Chapter 11 and actively pursuing is a sale of assets transaction. There are currently two parties interested in purchasing CRH at this juncture.    The potential terms of a sale are yet to be ironed out and there is much work still to be done before a deal could be finalized for acceptance by the Board and then consideration by the court.   Discussions are underway to determine value and how the hospital system would be structured with both parties.   Potential for further buyers to come forward is also a possibility.   The court has the final approval of any purchase offer.     Rest assured that all options will be assessed to best ensure the continued operations, service lines and access to needed healthcare services for our area.

Board member Linda Gralenski and her husband Fred have made a generous donation towards lunch for staff.  Monday, April 20, staff can choose the entrée or a sandwich courtesy of the Gralenskis.  A thank you card will be available in the cafeteria area for staff to sign.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 16, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:45 a.m. today there are: 796(1) confirmed cases; 333 Recovered; 130 Hospitalized and 27 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (507 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There is one county out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 2:30 p.m. today, there are 117 confirmed cases.

The court appointed Patient Care Ombudsman, (Mr. Jeff Brown) has begun his work to review the quality of patient care at CRH, at our added and costly expense.  He will be conducting this review offsite due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are providing him with a large quantity of requested documents and he will also conduct remote interviews with staff, patients and other relevant persons.  He has up to 60 days to provide his first report to the court.

From an employee suggestion, we are investigating the ability to do home visit lab draws for patients that feel too compromised to come into the hospital for their needed lab work.    This may be a solution for some patients to still be able to receive this needed service.   We’ll keep you updated on this project.

Thank you to the Princeton Elementary School for donating a supply of ear guard/comfort extenders for masks and also to Donna Netzer of Princeton.  Mrs. Netzer is willing to supply more of these if staff has an interest or need.  Please let Billie-Jo Leighton in the lab know and she will pass the requested quantity amount to our community volunteer.  More great examples of community members supporting our staff and hospital!

We care closely following the activities around the second wave of funding from the CARES Act.   The American Hospital Association has urged the DHHS to release substantial additional emergency funds to all hospitals in an expedited manner.   “The initial round of funding began to provide hospitals and health systems with some much-needed relief, but simply was not of the magnitude necessary,” AHA wrote today to HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “In addition to this second wave of funding to all hospitals, targeted relief is necessary for hospitals in hot spots, hospitals with a high percentage of payments under Medicare Advantage, hospitals caring for high numbers of Medicaid patients, and rural hospitals.” We certainly hope that we qualify for any/all funding offered.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 15, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 770(1) confirmed cases; 305 Recovered; 126 Hospitalized and 24 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (495 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 2 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There is one county out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 2:30 p.m. today, there are 117 confirmed cases.

As of today, more than 2 million coronavirus cases have been reported around the world, according to the Johns Hopkins University.   The United States accounts for about 30% of that total, with more than 600,000 cases nationwide.   Across the country, over 26,000 people have died due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The CDC has released additional online trainings regarding COVID-19 via their website.  Shelly Bodkin emailed information on these new offerings with the link to all staff this morning.   For those employees in a manager or supervisor role that are required to complete the FEMA trainings (100, 200, 700 levels) on Incident Command, there are also links to complete these online as well.  If you have questions, you can contact Shelly for clarification.

The meetings of the COVID-19 Workgroup will move to a bi-weekly schedule.   The group has been meeting weekly since January.  At that time the information was rapidly changing and it was necessary to meet frequently to keep everyone up to speed.   As the new information has currently slowed down, the group of internal and external members has opted to reduce the meeting structure until such time as an increased activity in the immediate area or rapid changes/updates occur.  The next meeting of the Workgroup is Tuesday, April 28 at noon in the classroom.

Efforts to put pressure on legislators to approve changes to the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program continue.   CRH staff, as well as local supporters, have been sending messages and contacting legislative representatives about the importance of these changes or waivers for CRH and many other similar hospitals across the nation.   If you have not messaged your local Representative or Senator, please do so and encourage others in our community to as well.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 14, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:45 a.m. today there are: 734(1) confirmed cases; 292 Recovered; 124 Hospitalized and 20 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (483 or 66%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There is one county out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 2:30 p.m. yesterday, there are 116 confirmed cases.

Thank you to all staff who has responded to yesterday’s memo by sending email messages and online messages on behalf of the hospital.  Pressure to provide support for such vital programs is a great help.    Please share the information and email links to others in the community to get the word out and sent to those that can make changes in the CARES Act Relief Funding.

Questions do continue to arise from the public on whether our services are open.   Please share that our outpatient and emergency services are still open for patients to utilize for healthcare services unrelated to COVID-19.   We are taking every precaution to protect patients coming in to receive needed services.

Please be advised that Governor Janet Mills, as the State continues to respond to COVID-19, signed a proclamation extending Maine’s state of civil emergency today for another thirty (30) days through May 15, 2020. The original state of civil emergency was scheduled to expire tomorrow, April 15, 2020. Please adhere to the personal hygiene and social distancing protocols.

Lastly, keep in mind that cyber-criminals are still out there trying to gain access to your personal information or get you to buy something that you will not receive. Now they are using a new scarcity tactic as a reason for a fast transaction. Therefore, please read the message carefully as the cyber-criminal may be offering something in short supply (like concert tickets, food, household products, money, car or home repair, or a new cure for medical conditions). Fear of missing out on a good deal or opportunity can make you respond quickly and compromise your security. Remember, if it seems too good to be true…it usually is! Don’t be tricked into this, it’s more likely a scam.

Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 13, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:45 a.m. today there are: 698(1) confirmed cases; 273 Recovered; 124 Hospitalized and 19 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (450 or 64%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There is one county out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 2:30 p.m. yesterday, there are 116 confirmed cases.

We need your help today to convince the Small Business Administration to provide a waiver for Calais Regional Hospital to be included in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).   It would guarantee staff’s paychecks for 8 weeks.  With over 250 employees and salary and benefits of over $16 million per year, these paychecks being at risk has potential to impact not just you personally – but also nearly every business in this community.

With regular hospital operations coming to an almost halt, there is little revenue projected to cover costs in the coming weeks.   This is a never before seen financial crisis for many hospitals like CRH, that threatens the ability of the organization to provide care and maintain its presence as an economic engine in our community.   As of today no waiver has been given, leaving many hospitals like CRH scrambling to figure out how to cover costs and make payroll in the coming weeks.  A relief payment was received last week and it is appreciated and very much needed.   However, in comparison, the PPP would provide a more long term opportunity of eight additional weeks to get to the other side of this crisis and restored volumes, versus the two week respite the relief funds last week provide.

Please contact the SBA and your federal legislators in asking for support for Calais Regional Hospital.   Sample wording you may use can be found on the hospital’s website at:  www.calaishospital.org/ppp-sample-letter/.   Contact information for regional and national representatives.

Federal SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza:  jovita.carranza@sba.gov

Regional SBA Administrator Diane Sturgeon:  diane.sturgeon@sba.gov

Senator Susan Collins staff:  carol_woodcock@collins.senate.gov

Senator Angus King staff: chris_rector@king.senate.gov

Representative Jared Golden staff:  barbara.hayslett@mail.house.gov

 Thank you for your continued efforts and support.  Be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 11, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 616(1) confirmed cases; 256 Recovered; 114 Hospitalized and 19 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (427 or 69.3%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There is one county out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 1:00 p.m. yesterday, there are 112 confirmed cases. Nationwide as of 12:00 p.m. today…

United States Total Cases:   522,320; U.S. Deaths:  20,086; U.S. Active Cases: 473,647

With continued encouragement from the CDC, wearing homemade masks by the public is increasing as part of social distancing.  The effort helps reduce the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the wearers’ ability to transmit to others especially if they are not aware of contracting the virus yet.   Homemade face masks must not be used by staff within the organization, even as a covering over a surgical mask or N95 at this time.  Please, only utilize the appropriate medical PPE supplies that we provide.  Attached to this memo is an info sheet shared by Maine CDC on who should use which type of mask, when to wear it and limitations of each.   As always, proper precautions for each situation are what protect you.

Just a friendly reminder for all staff to not forget about completing the screenings for fever at the beginning and end of each shift and leave through the main entrance if you are at the Hospital.   I realize it’s a change of routine, but it’s an essential part of the system in place to protect staff, patients and the community.

Lastly, the experts’ understanding of how the virus spreads is still limited at this time, but there are five (5) factors that most likely play a role in how you may be infected by COVID-19 or any virus for that matter: how close you get to people; how long you are near people; whether a person projects viral droplets on you or in the area that you breath (within 6 feet); how much you touch your face and by touching high touch points such as railings, door knobs, shopping carts, light switches, shared keyboards, etc.

Therefore, as previously mentioned in an earlier memo, continue to practice and reinforce the importance for personal hygiene and precautionary steps from the CDC to prevent the spread of germs, these guidelines include but are not limited to:

  • Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick (especially outside the Hospital);
  • Cover a cough or sneeze – preferably with a disposable tissue;
  • Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose, and mouth;
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects;
  • Practice social distancing by maintaining a distance of approximately 6’ from others if possible. This includes at work too… such as meetings, lunch breaks, hallway discussions, etc.;
  • Lastly, stay home if you have flu-like symptoms.

Thank you for all of your continued cooperation, efforts and dedication in these uncertain times.  I understand this is a difficult and stressful time to be in healthcare. Remember… we’re all in this together.

Be safe and I wish you all a very happy Easter Sunday with your family!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 10, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 586(1) confirmed cases; 246 Recovered; 111 Hospitalized and 17 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (413 or 70%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There is one county out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 1:00 p.m. today, there are 112 confirmed cases

With two brands of N95’s within the organization and not all staff fit tested for both, please be sure to only utilize the brand of N95 you have been fit tested for.  All staff have been fit tested for Kimberly Clarks, but only a small subset of staff have been fit tested for the 3M brand.   This was done with the quantity amounts on hand in mind to help best utilize the supplies.

As we see more COVID-19 suspect patients, and probably a positive at some point, it is important to remember consistent application of standard precautions for every situation with the processes and procedures developed for safety.  This is what protects you and prevents further spread.  However, we must also remember to remain calm and focused when faced with these situations and not induce fear and panic amongst ourselves.  Worry and anxiety are normal responses, however these fears cannot be allowed to be a distraction or disruption to our business of caring for our patients. There are processes in place for caring for these patients – positive or not- as well as notifications for staff when/if we experience a positive COVID-19 lab result.

To end on a good note, we have received some federal relief funds today.  The relief funds provide a bit of respite of the worry of making payroll when we are experiencing a loss of revenue while also assuming additional costs preparing for COVID-19.  This is a temporary, but welcome, reprieve to potential long-term consequences of a prolonged drop in volumes.  We continue to reach out to our legislatures requesting support for funding and waivers so CRH would qualify for some of the more robust relief options such as Paycheck Protection Program and Accelerated Medicare Payment.  Receipt of relief funds is very much appreciated and desperately needed as our volumes continue to reach serious lows.

Please continue your vigilance to stay safe here and at home.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 9, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:00 a.m. today there are: 560(1) confirmed cases; 202 Recovered; 105 Hospitalized and 16 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (401 or 72%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There is one county out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 2:30 p.m. today, there are 111 confirmed cases

As preparation plans continue for COVID-19 response, Directors/Managers are asked to review and update the emergency contact numbers for employees.   In the event Incident Command is initiated updated and confirmed numbers will be important.   Another reminder for staff to review and be sure they understand their role with Incident Command would be good.

Board Chair Ron McAlpine and his wife Diane have made a generous donation towards lunch for staff.   Tomorrow (Friday, April 10) staff can choose the entrée or a sandwich courtesy of the McAlpine’s.   A thank you card will be available in the cafeteria area for staff to sign.

Senior Leadership has sent a card to Board member Everett Libby and his wife Dawn for constructing the shields in the registration area. The support is greatly appreciated!

A small amount of PPE supplies have been received from Envision Physician Services. We have also been informed that we will be receiving a small amount of masks and a supply of hand sanitizer through groups providing assistance in the State.   Our staff continues monitor our PPE supplies and availability of future supplies through our vendors.

The severe decline in patient volumes and revenue is being felt by hospitals across the nation.  This is a never before seen financial crisis for many hospitals like CRH, that threatens the ability of the organization to provide care and maintain its presence as an economic engine in our community.  The American Hospital Association has reached out to the Small Business Administration requesting a waiver that would allow hospital’s such as CRH to benefit from the Paycheck Protection Program of the CARES Act.  There has been no action on this request as of yet.  We continue to seek out grant and loan options outside of the PPP program for assistance in addressing this challenging moment in our nations’ history while also looking to keep CRH solvent for the future.

Please continue your vigilance to stay safe.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 8, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:00 a.m. today there are: 537(1) confirmed cases; 187 Recovered; 101 Hospitalized and 14 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (383 or 71%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There is one county out of sixteen that is without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 2:30 p.m. today, there are 108 confirmed cases

We have been informed that CRH does not qualify for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) that is part of the government’s COVID-19 funding.  We continue to search for and apply to programs that will provide some funding relief for CRH during this time.

Health care professionals are particularly vulnerable to negative mental health effects as they strive to balance the duty of caring for patients with concerns about their own well-being and that of their family and friends during a crisis such as COVID-19.   Use the strategies and resources below from the American Medical Association to manage your own mental well-being while also caring for patients during the pandemic.   Take care of yourself, be well and stay safe.

1. Feel free to feel your feelings – You and your colleagues are likely to feel immense pressure given the potential surge in care demands, risk of infection and equipment shortages, among other stressors. Experiencing stress and the feelings associated with it is by no means a sign of weakness or a reflection on your ability to do your job.

2. Intentionally employ coping strategies – Put into practice strategies that have worked for you in the past during times of stress. These can include getting enough rest and finding respite time during work or between shifts, eating meals (ideally, healthy food, on a schedule), engaging in physical activity and staying in contact (with appropriate social distancing) with family and friends.

3. Perform regular check-ins with yourself – Monitor yourself for symptoms of depression/stress disorder such as prolonged sadness, difficulty sleeping, intrusive memories and/or feelings of hopelessness. Talk to a trusted colleague or supervisor. Be open to seeking professional help if symptoms persist or worsen over time.

4. Take breaks from the news and social media – Make a regular habit of stepping away from your computer and smart phone from time to time. When returning online, focus on information from reputable sources, not just sources in your social media feed.  You don’t have to take in everything produced by a 24/7 news cycle.

5. Be fortified by remembering the importance and meaning of your work – Remind yourself that despite the current challenges and frustrations, yours is a noble calling – taking care of those in need in a time of great uncertainty. Make sure to take time to recognize the efforts and sacrifices made by you and your colleagues.

Thank you all and please be safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 7, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:45 a.m. today there are: 519(1) confirmed cases; 176 Recovered; 99 Hospitalized and 12 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (368 or 71%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County.  CRH has had NO positive tests as of today.   There is one county out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 2:30 p.m. today, there are 105 confirmed cases

We continue to assess our PPE supply daily and are trying to be proactive about monitoring where high use of supplies seems to be occurring.   While the supplies are to be used with patients and visitors, they should not be utilizing more than the one mask during their visit.   If staff sees a patient or visitor taking more than one mask for the visit, please speak up and remind them they are only to utilize ONE if needed during their visit.  This is really important to ensure that we have the needed supplies to deal with a potential surge in patients.   We cannot adequately and safely take care of our community if we look the other way and allow hoarding of supplies by our community members or patients.

On the note of PPE, we continue to look to our normal vendors for supplies as well as the CDC and other organizations that provide such supplies and equipment for hospitals currently.  While we can place orders, they are always at risk of delay or reduction, which is why we continue to aggressively monitor to ensure we are not at risk of running out of needed supplies.

Applications are being submitted for a variety or government programs to assist with the financial strain hospitals such as CRH are currently experiencing across the country.  The long term ramifications of preparing for COVID-19 while also experiencing sharp declines in volumes, and therefore revenue, are great.   Financial services staff are working diligently to assess these programs and provide information needed to submit and take advantage of any opportunities that CRH qualifies for.

Thank you for your dedication and commitment during these difficult and unprecedented times.   Be well and please stay safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 6, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:00 a.m. today there are: 499(1) confirmed cases; 158 Recovered; 92 Hospitalized and 10 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (357 or 72%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County. There is one county out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 1:00 p.m. yesterday, there are 103 confirmed cases.

Today a brainstorming/walkthrough of the Popup ICU area set up in OR Suite 1 and in the ED.   It was a great collaborative effort to look at what additional items are needed, what protocols to develop, and issues to work on to be prepared if we have a surge of patients or multiple COVID-19 patients.  This is one of many preparedness tasks the COVID-19 team has taken on over the last few months as we move through the pandemic crisis.  Staff from nursing, registration, administration, pharmacy, security, facilities, respiratory, physician, etc all took part to continue our efforts in being ready to care for our community. In the event we are informed of a patient arriving via ambulance, this Popup ICU plan will be activated.   Staff will be notified via usual measures and it will be announced overhead as a Code 19.  This will notify all necessary staff to report to the ED or Surgery area to prep for an incoming patient(s).

Lincoln Life notified us that staff is eligible for a Disaster Withdrawal without penalty from their retirement savings account.   HR will share more information over the next couple of days regarding this.

Thank you to all the staff that have taken part so far in our social media efforts to show our community how much work our staff has completed to be prepared for COVID-19 and what you are doing every day to ensure needed services are here for them.   Anyone interested in taking part can send a picture to DeeDee in Community Relations to be added to the release rotation.   #myCRH   #CRHproud

Even while we are busy preparing, we are still committed to help our fellow healthcare providers in the community. Respiratory Therapist Steve Welsh will be at St Croix Regional Family Health Center in Princeton tomorrow to fit test over 30 staff members so they are prepared to continue providing care to their patients as well.

Continue doing a great job in these uncertain times.   Be well and please stay safe!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 4, 2020

Thank you all for your hard work, cooperation, understanding, teamwork, creativity, rising above and beyond for our community members, and continued support during these stressful and troubled times for our Hospital.

In the State of Maine as of 11:00 a.m. today there are: 456(1) confirmed cases; 140 Recovered; 83 Hospitalized and 10 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (326 or 72%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County. There is one county out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 2:30 p.m. yesterday, there are 98 confirmed cases.  The location of the positive COVID-19 case in Washington County is still unconfirmed.

On Monday our COVID-19 Preparedness Team will be participating in a mock drill of the Popup ICU we created in the OR 1 Suite. Because this space has negative pressure capabilities, it will be an ideal location to treat COVID-19 patients who may have to wait longer than normal for transfer to a tertiary care facility.

Fit testing conducted by Respiratory care staff and a night NSM for the 3M brand N95’s has begun for all IPCU staff. This will help to ensure that we are able to best utilize our inventory if the high need arises.

Beginning this week our COVID-19 testing will be sent to the Northern Light Lab instead of the Maine State Lab in Augusta.   This change is being made to improve the turnaround time for our patients and health care workers tested for COVID-19.  Northern Light currently has no backlog of tests to complete.  We still have pending results for 58% of our collected specimens at the Maine State Lab.   The CDC guidelines are still being followed to prioritize testing.

Please be advised that Governor Mills yesterday issued an Executive Order (EO) mandating that travelers arriving in Maine, regardless of their state of residency, self-quarantine for 14 days to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The Order, which directs the Maine Department of Transportation, the Maine Turnpike Authority, and others to post this guidance at all major points of entry into the State, exempts individuals who are providing essential services as defined by Governor Mills’ March 24 Executive Order (PDF). Health care workers are considered “essential services.” This EO will remain in effect through April 30th.

Starting April 3rd, small businesses and sole proprietorships with fewer than 500 employees can apply for and receive loans to cover their payrolls and certain expenses through the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”) sponsored by the Small Business Association lenders which is authorized up to $349 billion in forgivable loans during the COVID-19 crisis.

The loan amounts will be forgiven as long as:

  • The loan proceeds are used to cover payroll costs, and non-payroll costs such as mortgage interest, and utility costs over the 8-week period after the loan is made; and
  • That employee and compensation levels are maintained.

Due to the likely high volume of applicants, it is anticipated that not more than 25% of the forgiven amount may be for non-payroll costs. If the loans are not forgiven, loan payments will then be deferred for 6 months. We applied for this loan yesterday and continue to work with our State Senators, Collins/King, on qualifying for this PPP loan.

Lastly, we also continue to have daily discussions with the DHHS on financial assistance from them during this crisis and as well as exploring several other options out there in hopes that we qualify for funding programs.

Be well and please stay safe!

 Other COVID-19 data of interest by the numbers for week ending April 4, 2020:

ME-ICU Beds available:  110 out of 289

ME-Ventilators available:  267 out of 324

ME-Respiratory therapists available:  127

ME-Alternative ventilators available:  nearly 200

United States Total Cases:   277,205

U.S. Deaths:  6,593

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 3, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 432(1) confirmed cases; 113 Recovered; 75 Hospitalized and 9 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (311 or 72%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with 1 case in Washington County. There is one county out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 2:30 p.m. yesterday, there are 95 confirmed cases.

A positive COVID-19 case has been confirmed in our county. While this individual is not in Calais Regional Hospital, we encourage everyone to remain vigilant to the practices of good hand hygiene, disinfecting high-touch areas and self-isolation to help curb the spread of the virus and keep people healthy. Calais Regional Hospital prepares for crisis situations regularly and is taking precautions and implementing changes as necessary.  Currently ALL patient services are still open and available.   Notice will be provided should this change.  The safety and health of our patients, visitors, and staff remains our top priority, especially during this time of uncertainty. For more information on Coronavirus prevention and preparedness, please visit  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

We continue to inventory our PPE supply regularly to ensure adequate quantities.  Our supply of N95s, surgical masks, gloves and gowns seem sufficient currently and the vendors appear to be able to fill our orders at this time.   Materials management works with our vendors daily to assess predicted availability of needed supplies.  While we are in good shape now, all staff need to be vigilant in appropriate use of all supplies – most especially PPE.   It is the duty of all staff to deter hoarding, over use and even members of the public/patients taking or using more than is appropriate for the situation.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 2, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 10:00 a.m. today there are: 376(1) confirmed cases; 94 Recovered; 68 Hospitalized and 7 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (278 or 74%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with NO cases in Washington County. There are three counties out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 6:00 p.m. yesterday, there are 81 confirmed cases.

To say I am sadly disappointed in the article published in the Bangor Daily News today is an understatement.  To shine a light in a way that diminishes the hard work and dedication of our staff while also possibly creating panic and fear among our community members is shameful.  I am so proud of the way our employees have pulled together to face the anticipation of COVID-19. I KNOW we can do this.   I KNOW we are prepared to face this.  The dedication to planning and preparing is something you all should speak of with confidence and pride – and I hope you do freely to counteract any fear or worry that is now out in our community.

While not all cases that come through our doors can be textbook, our walls and our community are filled with professionals that are skilled and determined to meet the needs of our patients.   This particular case is being utilized as a tool in an erroneous fashion to create doubt, possibly for reasons beyond this case, which is sad because the cost of such actions is a detriment to our community and staff.  We are preparing our response to the State’s case review and have documentation that allows us to contest most all of the issues presented.   While it would have been nice to be able to provide all of the documentation proof collected over the last week for the court appearance, it was not possible as we were only provided about 24 hours’ notice between receiving the details of the review and the court hearing.  We will continue to prepare our response as we always have to such reviews.   We will also continue to support our staff and community by preparing for COVID-19; continue to be here for our community members when they seek care in their time of need; and continue to hold our heads high as the consummate, qualified healthcare professionals that we are.  Do not let this diminish your ability to shine.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

April 1, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:00 a.m. today there are: 344(1) confirmed cases; 80 Recovered; 63 Hospitalized and 7 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (257 or 75%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with NO cases in Washington County. There are three counties out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 2:30 p.m. today, there are 81 confirmed cases.

As alarming as the State and National COVID-19 numbers are, the disease could be far more reaching than the confirmed cases indicate simply due to the fact that many people with symptoms and even exposure will not be tested.   This is why it is so very important to remain vigilant with the CDC safety recommendations even with the low to no numbers in our area.    Without the robust data more testing availability would provide, the true scope and scale of the outbreak is difficult to determine.   Therefore, please take the appropriate precautions and continue to remind your friends and families as well:  wash your hands with hot water and soap for a minimum of 20 seconds, cover your cough, stay home when sick and practice social distancing when you are outside of your home.

Moreover, with volume numbers nosediving, we continue our talks with the Department of Health Human Services (DHHS) as well as researching programs that the hospital may qualify for as part of the relief package.  Payment protections and grant funding are drastically needed by CRH, and many hospitals across the nation, to offset the lack of revenue from patient services and the additional costs associated with COVID-19 preparedness.

Planning continues to move forward with providing telehealth visits for patients of the CRMS practices.  The government has relaxed regulations and allowed this as a billable service in response to COVID-19.  Staff have been diligently working through a plan to have this new service up and running very soon.

Stay safe and continue to keep yourself updated regularly through the myCRH page, staff notices, policy updates, and the CDC website.

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

March 31, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 10:30 a.m. today there are: 303(1) confirmed cases; 68 Recovered; 57 Hospitalized and 5 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (228 or 75%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with NO cases in Washington County. There are four counties out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 2:30 p.m. today, there are 70 confirmed cases.

CRH staff on the COVID-19 workgroup and Emergency Preparedness Committee is taking part in CDC reporting on a variety of indicators including: PPE inventory, bed counts, staffing, equipment availability, etc.  These efforts help coordinate care within healthcare facilities in the region and nationally.

Respiratory has begun fit testing for some staff on the alternate brand of N95’s that we currently have in inventory.  A night NSM has offered to train to provide the fit testing for night staff.  This will help to ensure we are able to best utilize our inventory if the high need arises.

As caregivers during a high stress time it is important to take care of yourself as much as possible.      Remember to take care of yourself so you can continue to help us care for our community:

  • Take Care of Your Body– Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
  • Connect– Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships, and build a strong support system.
  • Take Breaks– Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try taking in deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy and help you relax.
  • Stay informed– When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Look to the reliable sources. Ask and seek the information you need.
  • Avoid – Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to media coverage.
  • Ask for Help–Talk to a clergy member, counselor, or doctor, or contact the SAMHSA helpline at1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746.
1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

March 30, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are: 275(1) confirmed cases; 41 Recovered; 49 Hospitalized and 3 deaths.   The majority of these cases, (207 or 75%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with NO cases in Washington County. There are four counties out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 4:30 p.m. today, there are 68 confirmed cases.

Work continues on developing contingency plans for a potential surge of patients from COVID-19.  As part of this planning, a strategy is being developed to increase the ability of caring for patients longer than we would typically have to due to delayed transfer or lack of beds.

As policy and procedures are developed it is important for all staff to take personal responsibility in keeping up to date with the information shared, as well as seeking out information or education on issues you may face with COVID-19 patients.   With the speed that situations and CDC guidance can change, it is imperative to stay abreast of the issue as part of a healthcare organization.

Administration continues to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the daily operations of the hospital. While the passing of the COVID-19 stimulus bill has potential to offer aid and assistance for hospitals, we have no idea when or how much of that aid will reach CRH.  It does seem that the funding in this Bill is more backend than front ended and therefore not very helpful for facilities that are currently struggling to make payroll. Therefore, we continue to develop plans to manage our operations with the resources we currently have available.

Thank you for your continued support and efforts. We will get through this as we’re all in this together!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.

March 28, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:30 a.m. today there are: 211(1) confirmed cases and 3,394(2) Negative tests.

The majority of these cases, (158 or 75%), still remain primarily located in Cumberland and York Counties, with NO cases in Washington County. There are five counties out of sixteen that are without a COVID-19 case. In the Province of New Brunswick as of 9:30 a.m. today, there are (45) confirmed cases.

I’ve had several staff members ask me, “What can I do? How can I help?” and that is a very good question!

My answer is as follows:

  1. Be as prepared as possible. Review policies and procedures that we have on PolicyStat related to your job duties, Infection Control, Incident Command System, and many others;
  2. Exhibit a positive attitude, be willing to help others such as co-workers, be an advocate to community members for using our services in this time of need and remember…we’re all on a team here at CRH;
  3. Continue to practice and reinforce the importance for personal hygiene and precautionary steps from the CDC to prevent the spread of germs, these guidelines include but not limited to:

~ Washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;

~ Avoid close contact with people who are sick (especially outside the Hospital);

~ Cover a cough or sneeze – preferably with a disposable tissue;

~ Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose, and mouth;

~ Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects;

~ Practice social distancing by maintaining a distance of approximately 6’ from others if possible. This includes at work too… such as meetings, lunch breaks, hallway discussions, etc.;

~ Lastly, stay home if you have flu-like symptoms.

  1. Stay informed and help curtail rumors by helping the community with facts rather than allowing false information to continue circulating, verbally, and especially on social media.

During times of great stress and anxiety, it’s easy for rumors to sound too good to be true or too bad to not be true! Social media can be good, and it can also be bad. As healthcare leaders in our community, we play a very important role during stressful times like the COVID-19 Pandemic to be communicating the truth the best we can. That is the main reason why we [CRH] are following the Federal and State of Maine Centers for Disease Control and Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) for our sources of information and proper guidance. Should you hear rumors about our Hospital, and you cannot correct it yourself or you do not feel comfortable doing so, please bring them to our attention in Administration so we can address them. Moreover, below I have provided a listing of websites that can you can pass onto your co-workers and to people in our communities.

Some reputable sources for information… FEMA has a rumor control page for COVID-19 here: https://www.fema.gov/coronavirus-rumor-control Also check out our COVID-19 response page here: https://www.maine.gov/mema/response-recovery/incident-management/covid-19-response

https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/mecdc/infectious-disease/epi/airborne/coronavirus.shtml

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html

On behalf of our Board of Trustees and Board of Directors, we thank you all for your hard work, dedication and support during these trying times for your families, our Hospital and our community. We will get through this as we’re all in this together!

1Confirmed Cases: This number represents tests that come back positive from any approved lab.
2Negative Tests: This number represents negative tests from state, reference, or commercial laboratories, or at US CDC. Negative results are updated Monday through Friday.

March 27, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:30 a.m. today there are:    168 confirmed cases    and   3,394 Negative Tests

The majority (92) still remain primarily located in Cumberland County, with NO cases in Washington County.     In the Province of New Brunswick as of 9:30 a.m. today there are:    33 confirmed cases

We continue to inventory our PPE supply regularly to ensure adequate supply.  Our supply of N95s, surgical masks, gloves and gowns appear sufficient currently and the vendors appear to be able to fill our orders at this time.   Most staff is fit tested for Kimberly Clark brand N95s, but we also have access to 3M brand.  Respiratory may fit test some employees for the 3M’s in case we need to use them.  Materials management continues to work with our vendors to acquire additional supplies in anticipation of future needs.

The salad and yogurt bars in the cafeteria are shut down as of today to reduce exposure potential.  Additional pre-packaged items will be available.

Be sure you understand your role within the Incident Command System (ICS).  It is designed to deal with disasters and crisis such as COVID-19.  Hospitals across the country have activated the system as it has become necessary.   While we hope not to have to activate, all staff need to be prepared and understand their role, know that mandatory call ins may be instituted and many of the process and procedures used during normal day to day business may deviate due to the activation of the ICS.  Please take the time to review the Internal and External Disaster Plan on Policy Stat to ensure you understand your role in the event we activate the ICS.

Discussions continue with State and Federal agencies and legislators on the financial relief needed for rural hospitals to survive the COVID-19 pandemic.   The massive decline in patient visits has, of course, equated to severely reduced revenue streams.   For small rural hospitals, especially one such as ours in Chapter 11, an almost halt to many service lines is a detrimental hit.

Thank you for your continued efforts and dedication as we maneuver our way through this national crisis.  I am very proud of the diligent and thoughtful preparation I have witnessed within our staff.  Remember we are all in this together.

March 26, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:00 a.m. today there are:

155 confirmed cases    and   3,394 Negative Tests

Of the 155 cases, the majority (90) still remain primarily located in Cumberland County, with NO cases in Washington County.

In the Province of New Brunswick as of 3:45 p.m. today there are:

33 confirmed cases   and    1,795 Negative Tests

The visitor policy will be further reduced effective Saturday, March 28 at 7 a.m.    Each patient will now be allowed ONE designated visitor.   Signage will indicate the change and notifications to current patients are being prepared.

At our morning meeting it was mentioned staff may be unsure how to direct patients in regards to the COVID-19 screening entrance.  If an employee is approached outside of the facility inquiring where to go for COVID-19 issues or screening, they can be directed around to the Ambulance Entrance area where they can call in or use the phone outside to reach the nurses station.     Once a patient has crossed into the hospital entrance doors, they need to mask, sanitize their hands and report directly to the triage office.   After a patient comes through our door they CANNOT be sent back out to a different entrance.

Ace Hardware is providing eight pizzas for hospital staff tomorrow during lunch.   The pizzas will be dropped off at noon in the classroom.   Staff is welcome to stop by and grab a piece of pizza to go for as long as the supply lasts.   Please remember to thank Ace Hardware for their thought and support.

Continue your vigilance in hygiene and sanitizing at both work and home to keep you and your family safe and healthy.     Remember we are all in this together.

March 25, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are:

142 confirmed cases

Of the 142 cases, the majority (87) still remain primarily located in Cumberland County, with NO cases in Washington County.

In the Province of New Brunswick as of 7:00 a.m. today there are:     18 confirmed cases

Telehealth restrictions have been lifted to increase access to care without the need to leave home.   Governor Mills signed an Executive Order allowing for a much broader use of telehealth to treat patients.   The Superintendent of Insurance followed with an order requiring insurance companies to provide coverage for clinically appropriate services via telephone, as well as via more commonly used apps, such as FaceTime, WhatsApp and Skype, as long as they are private. This provides flexibility to patients who may not have access to web-based applications traditionally used for telehealth.   We are exploring the ability for CRH to be able to utilize these services with our patients.

The Senate and House continue to work through an agreed upon COVID-19 Relief Package.   Outside of the strain on healthcare systems with a surge of patients, many of the smaller hospitals such as CRH are struggling with a sudden decline in volumes – while also preparing for COVID-19 to reach their patients.   The Maine Hospital Association, American Hospital Association and the National Rural Hospital Association are all keeping a very close eye on these negotiations and provide updates and insights to us daily.   As it progresses there may be an opportunity to help by reaching out to those representing us in Washington.

Continue your vigilance in hygiene and sanitizing at both work and home to keep you and your family safe and healthy.     Remember we are all in this together.

March 24, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 12:00 p.m. today there are:

118 confirmed cases    Of the 118 cases, the majority (76) still remain primarily located in Cumberland County, with NO cases in Washington County.

In the Province of New Brunswick as of 7:00 a.m. today there are:      17 confirmed cases

It was reported this morning there has been concern in the community that some of our services have closed.   Please assist us with getting the word out that currently all of our service lines are open and available to care for patients.   Our Emergency Department is open 24 hours a day and remains available to deal with all medical emergencies, not just COVID-19 issues.    Your effort to dispel rumors and point our community members in the direction of accurate information, or where to seek information, is greatly appreciated.

With the need for blood products great, the hospital has contacted the Red Cross to assist with coordinating a drive for the area.    Once we confirm dates we will provide the relevant information on the precautions that will be in place during the blood drive.

Governor Janet Mills issued an Executive Order this afternoon implementing additional physical distancing measures.     Some of the actions included in the new Executive Order include:

~Mandates all non-essential businesses and operations in Maine close their physical locations that are public facing, meaning those that allow customer, vendor or other in-person contact. The Order also closes non-essential business sites that require more than ten workers to convene in a space where physical distancing is not possible.

~Non-essential businesses and operations subject to the Governor’s Executive Order include, but are not limited to, shopping malls, fitness and exercise gyms, spas, barber shops, hair salons, tattoo and piercing parlors, massage facilities, nail technicians, cosmetologists and estheticians, electrolysis services, laser hair removal services, and similar personal care and treatment facilities and services.

~Urges high-traffic retail stores in Maine that provide essential goods and services to immediately employ strategies to reduce congestion in their stores, including:

For stores with a physical retail space of more than 5,000 feet, limiting customers to no more than 100 at any one time;

Enhancing their curbside pick-up and delivery services;

Staggering their hours for shoppers of a certain age;

Closing fitting rooms;

Cautioning customers against handling merchandise they are not purchasing;

Marking six-foot measurements by the cashier stations and reminding customers to remain six feet apart while in store;

Staggering break times for employees and require frequent hand-washing;

Frequently sanitizing high-touch areas, such as shopping carts.

~Governor Mills is taking into consideration all COVID-19 response options, including a stay-at-home restriction.

Thank you for your efforts to pull together in the threat of COVID-19.  Remember we are all in this together.

March 23, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:30 a.m. today there are:

107 confirmed cases

Of the 107 cases, the majority (66) still remain primarily located in Cumberland County, with NO cases in Washington County.   However, 5 are listed as unknown.

Info on travel restrictions between the US and Canada is provided with this notice.   The link to view online is:  https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2020-06217.pdf.   The restrictions are in place from March 21 – April 20 according to a representative of Senator Susan Collins office.  No information has been provided yet on what type of documentation that might be required, but I would suggest keeping your Hospital ID Badge on you when crossing the border.

Team huddles for Department Leaders will be held each weekday morning at 8 a.m. in the classroom for questions and info sharing or updates.  A member of senior leadership will be available at each meeting.

These are intended to last approximately 15-20 minutes, provide opportunities to ask questions and to share insight from departments.   Please reach out to your department leaders with specific info or concerns that you would like to be shared.

Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication in these uncertain times.    I understand this is a difficult and stressful time to be in healthcare.    Remember we are all in this together.

March 20, 2020

In the State of Maine as of 11:00 a.m. today there are:

44 confirmed cases and

12 presumptive positive cases.

Of the 56 cases, the majority (35) still remain primarily located in Cumberland County, with NO cases in Washington County.   However, 2 are listed as unknown.

Administration is in direct contact with Senator Susan Collins office and is also reaching out to Canadian officials requesting formal notices of allowable border crossings.    As soon as the information is received it will be provided for staff to keep on hand for passing between Canada and the United States.  At this time, it is our understanding that all healthcare workers are permitted and no staff have been denied to date.   However, we will continue to request the official documentation.

Yesterday at 5:15 p.m. the Maine CDC issued a prioritization system for determining who will be tested for COVID-19.   With the announcement of this system patients must be symptomatic (fever or respiratory symptoms) AND fall into one of the CDC mandated high risk categories:

* Hospitalized Patients

* Health Care Workers

* First Responders

* Those living in Congregate Settings (group homes, assisted living, etc)

* Patients Older than 60 Years

* Patients with Underlying Medical Conditions

Per CDC guidelines, individuals whose symptoms are consistent with COVID-19 but who DO NOT fall into one of these high-risk categories should be evaluated and isolated at home.

March 18, 2020

Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication in these uncertain times.   With information coming from so many places it is easy to let fear and uncertainty take hold and distract us.    Please utilize the resources we have shared for continued updates.  Links and information from dependable sources can be found on MyCRH.

For those whose career path is the front lines of healthcare via direct patient care or an essential role to the function of healthcare, extra thought and steps are needed to ensure your family and household have a plan.   As a healthcare worker you play a vital role in the health and well-being of your community members.   When you know your family is safe and cared for, you will be able to turn your full attention to your mission.

Keep in mind:   You may be working in stressful conditions for extended periods of time or required to work extra shifts.

  • By being prepared at home your ability to do your job effectively and safely is greatly increased.
  • Prepare with your family ahead of time and you will reduce stress and uncertainty for everyone.
  • Create a household plan of action: talk with the people who need to be included in your plan; make contingency plans for those you care for – parents, children, pets; plan how to protect yourself and others if you or a household member becomes sick; stay in touch via phone or internet with those that may be alone, etc.

If you are going to be absent more than 3 days, apply for Family Medical Leave or a Leave of Absence through Human Resources.    Down staffing may occur as volumes are affected.

For more info on getting your home ready see the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/get-your-household-ready-for-COVID-19.html