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Northern Light Health begins vaccinating employees, warns that bed capacity could become issue soon

Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 vaccine
Pfizer-Biontech COVID-19 vaccine
Published: Dec. 16, 2020 at 5:18 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Northern Light Health began vaccinating employees early Wednesday morning.

Eastern Maine Medical Center was the first facility to open their vaccine clinic.

125 employees were vaccinated as of Wednesday afternoon, double the number they initially planned for the day.

The Maine CDC reports around 500 healthcare workers had been vaccinated at hospitals around the state as of this afternoon.

AR Gould and Mercy Hospitals will start their own vaccination clinics this week.

They will expand to other hospitals in the Northern Light system as early as next week.

”For the community at large, we know this is going to be a slow process. We want you to be patient. Your time is coming, but it may not be that soon.”

Dr. Jarvis once again stressed today the importance of mask wearing, social distancing, and avoiding gatherings.

He also cautioned against using COVID testing as a tool to enable holiday gatherings and said tests of asymptomatic individuals may be delayed.

64 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the Northern Light system.

They are concerned that number could rise rapidly given the current surge in cases.

One statistical model predicts 800 patients entering hospitals in the state on Christmas morning, more than the capacity of Maine Medical Center and Mercy Hospital combined.

”That is an outlier model. It is the one we hope that is wrong but hope is not a strategy. We need to plan as if that model is correct. We need to work to continue to keep those numbers lower until we have a vaccination widespread to decrease the amount of virus that is out there. Are we concerned now? Yes. Are we in that critical phase? No. But we continue to evaluate and we need to always remain diligent.”

Dr. Jarvis says hospitals have begun using the surge plans organized early in the pandemic to deal with high case counts.

According to the Maine CDC, 195 people with COVID-19 are currently hospitalized across the state, 55 in critical care.

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