The main entrance at Mid Coast Hospital is closed as part of the restrictions in place to help the hospital contain the coronavirus. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

BRUNSWICK — A week after announcing its first case of COVID-19, the disease caused by coronavirus, Mid Coast Hospital confirmed Thursday afternoon that the Brunswick hospital is treating four patients for the respiratory illness.

The numbers are changing frequently, but as of 4 p.m. Thursday, the hospital has treated eight patients for COVID-19 in total and a ninth person was treated by another health care provider in the Midcoast area, according to Carl DeMars, the senior director for the ambulatory practices at Mid Coast Hospital.

DeMars said six of those patients have been admitted to the hospital and two have been discharged, “so not everybody who is COVID-19 positive gets admitted to the hospital,” he said.

None of those nine patients COVID-19 are health care workers, nor did any of them require ventilators, DeMars said.

By Thursday there were 155 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maine, with 90 of them in Cumberland County, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. There were still only four cases listed in Sagadahoc County.

Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, said Thursday that of those 155 people, 22 are hospitalized.

DeMars stressed Thursday that 80% of people who get this virus do not get significantly ill and don’t require hospitalization. For around 15% of the people, the illness is severe and can require hospitalization, “and right now around 5% are requiring something like a ventilator.”

Those who don’t have serious symptoms are asked to stay home, treat their fever, rest, hydrate and isolate themselves so they’re not around other family members. Good hand hygiene and cleaning of surfaces are also important.

For those who have symptoms like a fever, cough or trouble breathing, the typical recommendation is to quarantine for at least seven days from the onset of symptoms and go at least 72 hours without a fever without taking a fever-reducing medication like Tylenol or Ibuprofen, DeMars said. Fevers occur when the body is attempting to burn off an infection.

Mid Coast Hospital is testing an average of 10 to 20 people a day, focusing on its patients who are hospitalized and patients over 60 with serious chronic illness. The hospital doesn’t have enough tests right now to test everyone who might want one or have symptoms because there is a shortage of testing supplies, DeMars said.

The hospital has instituted waves of restrictions to help slow the spread of the virus, screening all visitors and then canceling any medical procedures and doctors’ office visits that can wait and last Friday began prohibiting visitors.

Anyone experiencing symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath is asked to call their primary care provider before coming to the practice, walk-in clinic, or emergency department.

It helps the hospital stunt the spread of the virus.

“It’s all about flattening the curve,” DeMars said.

The hospital has been asking the community to help by donating unused medical equipment, coordinated through the MaineHealth website.

“I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion that we won’t have enough (personal protective equipment) at all,” DeMars said. “It depends on the actions of communities and their abilities to social distance and adhere to recommendations from our state officials and stay home.”

 

Staff wears protective gear outside Mid Coast Hospital near the emergency department Thursday. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

 

 

 

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