St. Andre Health Care facility in Biddeford needs personal protectice equipment, especially maks. Donations of masks are welcome. Courtesy photo

BIDDEFORD — Dr. Vani Mallipeddi of Biddeford Family Dentistry has had to close her doors, due to the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic, but she still wanted to help others. The help she provided is aiding a local health care facility that remains open to serve its patients.

“One of our colleagues started collecting PPE (personal protective equipment),” Mallipeddi said in a recent telephone interview. “I thought of the idea to ask if someone needed it in the local community.”

Although her office is small and she doesn’t keep many masks or other PPE inventory on hand, Mallipeddi donated four boxes of masks, 50 per box, to St. Andre Health Care in Biddeford, where such items are needed and welcomed.

Mallipeddi’s Biddeford Family Dentistry is one of more than 25 dental practices throughout Maine that have donated personal protective equipment to their local hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and first responders, in an effort to help fight the spread of COVID-19, and aid in the response, according to information collected by the Maine Dental Association from its members. The practices have donated more than 10,000 masks and more than 20,000 gloves, along with items such as sanitizing wipes, face shields, and surgical gowns.

The Maine Dental Association is urging member dentists to donate personal protective equipment in their local communities.

Mallipeddi’s donation was welcome at the 96-bed facility which provides rehabilitation and skilled medical care, short-term respite care, long-term nursing care, Alzheimer’s and dementia care, and palliative and hospice care, St. Andre President Stephen Alaimo said in April 2 email.


“We currently have limited amount of PPE in stock and there is a backlog with our current vendor so we are utilizing Dr. Maillipeddi’s masks for staff,” Alaimo said. “Prior to this virus, we have always practiced precautions when a resident/patient had a communicable virus, but now more audits are being performed and education with staff is being done in real-time. All staff is on heightened awareness concerning precautions. We are utilizing PPE sparingly as needed to keep residents and staff safe without waste. It is not only a St. Andre issue but a national issue.”

Mallipeddi’s donation is especially helpful, he said, because “our level of masks and gowns is very low currently.” The in-house stock “is limited and well-below our par levels that we keep during non-pandemic times.”

A significant problem, he said, is that “our current vendor will not let any of their vendors order extra quantities as we are only allowed to order based upon past ordering history.”

Because of this, Alaimo said, “We are looking for any donation from the public that we can get. I am currently looking for people that can sew hand-made masks. It is not completely recommended by the CDC at this time, but it does reduce the chance of contracting the virus so we would like to be able to offer this to all staff.”

In addition to looking for additional PPE, St. Andre is taking other precautions to combat COVID-19, Alaimo said. As of Thursday, April 2, there were no reported cases of the virus at the facility, he said.

The first step taken to prevent the coronavirus from infecting patients and staff was to close the facility to visitors on March 14.


In addition, Alaimo said, “We have closed all entrances to the facility with the exception of the main front doors where all staff need to enter and exit through the one door. Upon entrance, all employees go through a screening related to COVID-19, along with their temperature taken each time. Cleanliness throughout the facility has been top priority also. All vendors are being screened at the front door and most are not allowed on the actual resident living areas. Most deliveries are being left at the main lobby door or the loading area.”

Meetings are being kept to a minimum, he said and many are done using Skype. If an in-person meeting is required those present are adhering to the physical distancing recommendation of staying six feet or more from one another.

New patients continue to be accepted, although the facility is carefully screening new admissions.

“The hospitals would be over-filled if the local skilled nursing facilities did not accept patients,” Alaimo said. “We do take into consideration if the potential admit has symptoms.”

“We are able to discharge patients,” he said, “but it is difficult setting up for home health services with the local agencies. This could lead to unsuccessful discharges if home health services cannot accept patients as the patient may be higher risk for re-hospitalizations.”

Despite all the unknowns of the novel coronavirus, “the patients have been in great spirits,” Alaimo said. Because visitors aren’t allowed, residents are keeping in touch with loved ones through Skype and FaceTime, he said, and staff are spending more quality time with each of the residents.

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