Viewpoint: Seek essential and emergency care  

By Dr. Charlie Hendricks and 

Dr. David Sugerman 

As the medical directors of the emergency department and surgical services at Mount Desert Island Hospital, this is our plea to the residents of MDI: please do not be afraid to come to MDI Hospital for your immediate health needs. 

Heart attacks and strokes can still happen even during a pandemic. Urgent situations requiring surgery can still develop. Serious medical and traumatic issues can be devastating if ignored and care is delayed, resulting in far worse outcomes and unnecessary debilitation. Chronic conditions and moderate health concerns can progress without monitoring and treatment. 

We want to assure everyone that we are taking the necessary precautions to keep patients as safe as possible. We have established a segmented emergency department, providing care for potential COVID-19 patients in isolation, away from patients with other emergencies. The operating rooms and pre-operative suites carefully manage patient segregation. All patients have COVID-19 testing before their surgery, providing additional security. The staff is well trained and currently we have all the necessary equipment to protect both the patients and the staff. 

MDI Hospital’s network of primary care providers and surgeons is available to help guide the decision of when to seek essential and emergent care. Options are available for evaluations that follow safe social and physical distancing guidelines, including telemedicine options for those patients for whom this may be more appropriate. MDI Hospital is now performing surgeries when necessary and appropriate. We are also scheduling mammograms and working to establish a schedule for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). Chronic illnesses still need close management by your primary care provider to avoid long-term consequences. Telemedicine options are available for this as well. MDI Hospital is closely monitoring the guidance of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Maine Center for Disease Control (CDC) and our Governor with the goal of reopening additional services as soon as it is appropriate to do so. 

The MDI community has done a great job following the CDC recommendations of practicing good hand hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, wearing masks in public and staying home as much as possible. This has significantly protected our community. The CDC further recommends that people with chronic illnesses should continue to take their regular medicines, as directed, and stay in touch with their health care provider. 

The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) reports people staying away from hospitals across the country despite serious illnesses. If you are experiencing crushing chest pain, sudden weakness, difficulty talking or severe abdominal pain, please seek further medical advice. MDI Hospital is ready to address every emergency, whether caused by COVID-19 or anything else, in a safe and separate way. Stay safe and stay healthy, but if you are sick, seek medical advice—please!


Dr. Charlie Hendricks is medical director of surgical services at MDI Hospital 

Dr. David Sugerman is medical director of emergency medicine at MDI Hospital 


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