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Maine hospitals facing more COVID stress than ever before

Published: Dec. 8, 2021 at 3:32 PM EST
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Maine (WABI) - Between short staffing and rising COVID cases, hospitals in Maine are under more stress than ever before.

Officials with Maine’s two largest hospital networks say vaccines are the best solution to the current space and staffing crunch.

“This really largely is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” said Dr. Andy Mueller, CEO of Maine Health.

Folks with Maine Health are getting creative to open up more ICU beds.

They are now forced to close more operating rooms.

“So we previously closed six rooms, and now we’re closing six more rooms. And the reason we did this is the goal was to increase the number of nurses, and other staff to help open up eight to 12 more ICU beds at Maine Medical Center,” said Dr. Joel Botler of Maine Health.

Closing these rooms limits the amount of non-COVID patients they can treat.

Maine Medical Center in Portland has turned down 50% of elective surgeries, including all joint replacement procedures.

Northern Light Health says they could find themselves doing the same thing if this Christmas holiday is as bad as last year.

“Starting on Friday, non-urgent procedures at Eastern Maine Medical Center will be evaluated for necessity with some needing to be postponed if there’s a high likelihood of needing admission to the hospital,” said Dr. James Jarvis of Northern Light.

Nearly nine out of 10 beds in Penobscot County hospitals are filled, and the increase of COVID patients is having residual effects on others in need of care.

“We have had an increase in car accident and trauma related admissions as well over the last few days. And then we are seeing patients who delayed care, and therefore, their condition which may have been something easily managed or less complex before is now more complex and requiring a longer hospital stay,” said Dr. Jarvis.

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