By Arthur J. Blank
President/CEO, MDI Hospital
The new coronavirus outbreak and its associated respiratory disease (COVID-19) continue to be an emerging, rapidly evolving situation nationally and internationally. Our team at Mount Desert Island Hospital and Health Centers has been monitoring the situation since January and is following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). We are in close daily contact with these organizations and have been actively planning in concert with providers statewide to ensure that our care providers and staff have the latest guidance available.
While we are well prepared for pandemic management and confident in our abilities to meet the challenges posed by a coronavirus outbreak in the communities we serve, we need your help to ensure that we are protecting our friends and neighbors. If you have traveled recently or have a fever, dry cough or shortness of breath, the best thing you can do is call ahead before visiting your care provider. We have also established a Coronavirus Call Center that can be reached at 207-801-5900. This phone call allows our dedicated professionals to prepare for your visit safely and protects those in our community who are most vulnerable.
The steps we are taking to protect our patients, our community and our dedicated staff include monitoring access to all of our facilities and limiting our visiting hours in accordance with the recommendations of the CDC. For your protection, we have established a tented, centralized access point for health center testing and screening outside of our Cooper Gilmore Health Center located at 17 Hancock Street. We have also established a staging area outside of our emergency room to assess and manage emergent cases.
Consistent with CDC guidance, the Birch Bay Retirement Village community has implemented additional restrictive measures, such as limiting non-essential personnel in the facility. Other steps we have taken throughout the organization include the implementation of travel restrictions and monitoring for our employees and the cancellation of large meetings, gatherings and community events. Some in our workforce are now working remotely and in staggered shifts. We have also temporarily suspended volunteer activities.
We know this is a stressful time and you want to know what you can do now to protect yourself, your family and our community from the new coronavirus. One of the best things we can do to protect one another is to practice good hand and respiratory hygiene. This includes washing our hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and covering our mouth and nose with a tissue or our elbow when we are coughing or sneezing. It’s also a good idea to avoid touching our nose, eyes and mouth. These simple steps help us protect not only ourselves but those in our community who are older and may have chronic health conditions that make them more susceptible to the new coronavirus.
We can also practice social distancing, which includes avoiding large crowds and others who are sick. Other social distancing measures include school and business closures and using technology to communicate instead of in-person visits. All of these steps can help flatten the curve of an outbreak here and slow the spread of COVID-19. This is critical to our ability to care for those who are sick.
I am confident in this very special community and our ability to come together to support one another through these trying times and to slow the spread of this infectious disease. If you only have time to take one thing away from this, let it be the importance of calling ahead before visiting your provider’s office or the emergency room if you think you have or may have COVID-19. Again, this phone call will assure that we will be able to best provide care to you while maintaining a safe environment for all our patients and staff.
Our team at MDI Hospital and Health Centers will continue to monitor and adjust to the evolving challenges we’re facing. You can help us prevent the spread of COVID-19 by staying informed, engaged and aware. Thank you for making this community one that I am proud to call home. For more coronavirus information and preparedness tips, visit our website at www.mdihospital.org and click on the alert tab or call our Coronavirus Call Center at 801-5900.