MOUNT DESERT ISLAND — Where were you? What were you doing? Who have you been in contact with? Who have you been in close contact with? According to physician’s assistant Kate Worcester of Mount Desert Island Hospital, for people who test positive for COVID-19, the answers to these questions, beginning two days prior to the onset of symptoms, are key to managing the spread of the disease.
Worcester, who recently received an award for outstanding medical healthcare professional from the Maine Association of Physician Assistants, along with Dr. Julius Krevans Jr., was present to inform the public about travel safety and preparing for the holiday season at a virtual MDI Hospital Town Hall discussion hosted by hospital President and CEO Art Blank on Oct. 27.
The first topic discussed was travel. Blank asked both physicians about the precautions people should take to travel safely. Before traveling, Worcester said that “people should inform their family.”
Krevans and Worcester agreed that all travelers should be tested for the coronavirus prior to departure. The two healthcare workers suggested ConvenientMD in Brewer, as it remains the only clinic closest to the island to currently offer asymptomatic (symptom-free) testing.
“Prior to travel, people should be extremely cautious,” said Worcester. Krevans, who was on vacation in Montana at the time of the series, joined the webinar via Zoom. Although Krevans had traveled out of state, he emphasized the importance of being extra cautious. During his stay, Krevans said he was wearing a mask and social distancing as much as possible. “I will not be going out to eat and have limited my trips to the grocery stores because that’s putting myself at high risk,” he said.
This bled into the meeting’s second topic about preparing for the holiday season. Blank wanted to know how these MDI healthcare professionals felt about family gatherings. “If you don’t feel like you are close enough to know the health of a relative, you should not invite them,” said Worcester.
Especially when relatives are visiting from different areas of the country, Worcester said people should structure their lives in advance to make sure the gathering can be held safely. She encouraged would-be hosts to use their outdoor space to entertain guests. “Everyone should still be wearing masks when not sitting and eating,” she said.
The use of high-efficiency air purifiers was suggested after a guest asked if they would help during a get–together. “Opening windows or anything that helps with air quality will help make the party safer,” said Worcester.
After answering a few questions from the community about future vaccines, standard quarantine and viral transmission, Blank asked the physicians if they had additional advice for islanders ahead of the holiday season. Krevans said he wanted people to remember that as the weather starts to get cold and people move inside, there are greater risks involved.
Before ending the virtual meeting, Blank urged continued vigilance. “MDI Hospital is committed to the safety of our community, and although the risk remains low, we need to remain hyper vigilant in our precautions.”