Grant covers COVID-19 testing for island schools 

BAR HARBOR Bar Harbor Bank & Trust is supporting the Mount Desert Island community with a $37,400 grant to go towards MDI Hospital’s COVID-19 testing initiative, developed in concert with the Downeast COVID-19 Task Force. This grant is targeted to benefit the Mount Desert Island Regional School System (AOS 91) as it strives to keep students, staff and schools healthy and safe.  

“MDI Hospital is grateful to Bar Harbor Bank Trust for their continued leadership support in our community,” said Art Blank, president and CEO of MDI Hospital. “They have stepped up to help our island schools stay on track during this pandemic, enabling a high-quality, evidencebased COVID-19 testing program.” 

Initially, 500 staff members will be tested to establish a baseline and detect any existing cases. This will be followed by weekly sentinel testing of staff in pre-established cohorts. The AOS 91 tests will be conducted by MDI Hospital personnel and processed by Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC) Health, an incubator for innovative start-up and testing facilities. CIC collaborates with more than 100 organizations throughout the United States, conducting some 4,000 tests daily. CIC Health is a founding partner of the Assurance Testing Alliance, a collaboration of professional organizations working to streamline and lower the costs of COVID-19 testing. 

“Bar Harbor Bank & Trust is passionate about supporting the communities we serve, especially MDI, which has been our home for more than 130 years. Ensuring the safety of our schools has a significant positive impact to the entire community, and proactive efforts like this testing program will help limit the spread of COVID-19 throughout MDI. We are honored to help support this partnership between MDI Hospital and AOS 91 to help keep our kids, teachers and neighbors safe,” said Curtis Simard, president and CEO of Bar Harbor Bank & Trust.  

An additional grant of $40K to support the AOS 91 testing initiative has been received from the Rural Health Hospital Program for expanding testing in rural communities. COVID-19 tests will be conducted from November 2020 through June 2021 at no cost to district employees, and with no impact on current school budgets. “This testing program will be used to monitor our schools for evidence of community spread of COVID-19 in concert with current mitigation strategies,” explained Marc Gousse, superintendent of the AOS 91 Mount Desert Regional School System. 

The Downeast COVID-19 Task Force was established in the early days of the pandemic to explore community-based solutions and provide a forum for discussion of ongoing challenges around COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and education. Current members include area town and chamber of commerce leaders, local legislators and leadership from MDI Hospital, Healthy Acadia, The Jackson Laboratory, Mount Desert Island Regional School System, College of the Atlantic and Acadia National Park. 

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