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 — Two patients are currently being treated at Mid Coast Hospital for COVD-19, the respiratory disease caused by coronavirus, hospital officials said Thursday. 

In total, the hospital has confirmed 22 positive cases of the illness, and 12 have been treated in the hospital. Due to privacy concerns, hospital officials did not disclose how many people are on ventilators. 

The hospital announced its first positive case March 18, and more than 850 people have been tested. 

Maine recorded 76 new cases of coronavirus on Thursday — the highest single-day total since the outbreak began – with more than two-thirds are connected to outbreaks at a poultry processing plant and a skilled nursing facility, according to the Portland Press Herald. There have now been 1,330 cases in Maine since mid-March – 1,231 confirmed cases and 99 probable cases, or individuals who likely have or had the virus based on symptoms and exposure but were never tested.

Sixty-two people have died of COVID-19 in Maine.

Cases at the Mid Coast Hospital have remained relatively stable over the last few weeks, with only five more cases and two additional hospitalizations since April 16, but the financial costs of the virus are continuing to mount. 

“I’m not going to sugarcoat this, the financial impact has been considerable on our healthcare system,” Lois Skillings, CEO of Mid Coast Parkview Health said Thursday. 

The hospital is experiencing a substantial loss in revenue from the cancellation of elective and other non-urgent procedures and the overall slowing of the economy, she said.

Emergency room visits are down 40% and outpatient ambulatory services by 65% she said, calling it “a big hit.” It also creates further concerns that “some people in need of urgent healthcare services may not be receiving the care that they need,” she added. 

Skillings could not provide an estimate for the overall losses as the situation unfolded rapidly and the numbers are still being calculated, but “it’s big,” she said—  “numbers I’ve never seen in my career.” 

According to the Portland Press Herald, the Maine Hospital Association recently announced that state hospitals are looking at a potential loss of half their normal revenue — about $250 million a month in all.

There has been some upfront support, Skillings said, like a Human Health and Services Grant and The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ Accelerated and Advance Payment Program, but it’s “just drops in the bucket… in the grand scheme of what the losses will be,” she said. Hospital staff will continue to leverage opportunities available through the state and federal government, she said. 

Mid Coast Hospital is especially fortunate to have “very strong reserves,” Skillings said, and the recent merger with MaineHealth has been “a Godsend” for financial and material support. 

“MaineHealth entered the COVID-19 crisis on course to meet its financial goals for the 2020 fiscal year, and the organization is regarded as one of the more financially sound hospital systems in the region,” she said. 

Despite the financial concerns, there have been no reductions in staffing. 

Many hospitals have struggled to obtain personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, gowns and face shields, but Skillings said Mid Coast Hospital has been lucky.

Staff are being conservative with their equipment usage and the brands continue to change as the supply chain struggles to keep up, but they are not lacking in what they need to keep patients and staff safe, she said. 

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.

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 is prohibiting visitors.

Skillings said most nonurgent care such as well checks and screenings will still be postponed until the fall, but time-sensitive procedures or care where “someone will suffer an adverse outcome if service is delayed,” will resume Monday. 

This will be done “very carefully and safely” and staff and patients will continue social distancing, wearing masks and frequently cleaning surfaces. 

“Physical distancing remains the best way to help our providers and staff as the COVID-19 pandemic continues,” Judy Kelsh, senior director of marketing communications said earlier, urging Mainers to stay at home as much as possible, wash their hands and avoid crowds. 

Skillings said the hospital and the state are seeing “the curve start to flatten,” but she cautioned that it’s “a pandemic that’s not going away in the short term.” 

“We may take two steps forward and one step back,” she said. “We need to be careful about not doing things too fast.” 

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