New England Cancer Specialists closed its Kennebunk treatment center and advised more than 230 patients to watch for coronavirus symptoms after a person connected to the office tested positive for COVID-19.

The cancer center was notified over the weekend that an employee tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus. Another person connected to the practice tested negative and several others are awaiting test results.

“Some of those folks are having symptoms,” said Victoria Foley, spokesperson for New England Cancer Specialists.

Patients with chronic underlying medical conditions such as cancer, as well as older adults, are especially vulnerable to the disease, according to state and federal health agencies.

The people being tested are a mix of patients and employees. Foley said 237 patients who visited the Kennebunk office last week for appointments or treatment were notified they should stay home and monitor themselves for symptoms.

In addition, 23 of the office’s 43 employees had direct close contact with the person who tested positive and are now quarantined and monitoring for symptoms, Foley said. Close contact is defined by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention as within 6 feet of a person for more than 15 minutes.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said Monday there are 17 confirmed or presumptive cases of coronavirus in Maine, up seven from Sunday.

Treatment services for patients from the Kennebunk office are being moved to the company’s Scarborough location. Some appointments are being done through telemedicine, Foley said.

The Kennebunk office was cleaned and disinfected over the weekend, but will remain closed for 14 days on the advice of the CDC. Additionally, all staff members will wear masks and all patients are asked to the same. No one under 18 will be allowed in the offices and visitors are limited to one at a time.

Before coming into the office, patients and visitors are being screened with the following questions: Have you or a family member traveled on a plane or been on a cruise ship in the past 14 days? Do you have any respiratory symptoms similar to cold or flu? Have you had contact with someone who has been exposed to or tested positive for COVID-19?

New England Cancer Specialists does not anticipate a gap in services for its patients, Foley said.

“It is our goal to make sure we can continue to treat everyone without interruption, whether it is through telemedicine or our other offices,” Foley said “We understand the type of service we deliver is absolutely critical to our patients.”

Officials from New England Cancer Specialists were in close contact with the Maine CDC over the weekend and are following health officials’ recommendations, Foley said. The strong guidance provided by the CDC has been reassuring for medical providers, she said.

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