AUGUSTA, Maine — Big city hospitals are being overwhelmed by cases of COVID-19. Maine’s health care system is fully engaged with the virus, with 69 people hospitalized as of Thursday morning.
But what happens if it gets significantly worse?
The Maine CDC made it clear the hospital system is a big part of their focus. The agency continues to search for more sources of protective supplies for health care workers, known as PPE. The most recent shipment of those supplies from the federal government stockpile will be distributed starting Friday, but CDC director Dr. Nirav Shah says they have been told that will be the last delivery for the time being. So they’re looking elsewhere.
“Just this morning, Maine CDC Placed order for 300,000 N95 masks from a vendor in Maine with whom we work quite a bit,” said Dr. Shah.
He also said the CDC is working on plans to create more hospital space, in case of a big increase in COVID-19 cases. That is involving Maine Emergency Management and the National Guard, developing a plan to set up “triage tents” outside some hospitals to handle patients away from the Emergency Room and help determine what level of care they need. In addition, the CDC Director says they are also planning for possible deployment of an emergency field hospital.
“Our focus is locating those (triage tents) in the areas of highest need, going with the triage system so individuals who are not feeling well can check-in, and maybe get some level of additional care.”
Field hospitals, he says, are being looked at with the help of MEMA and the Army Corps of Engineers, looking for empty buildings that might be adapted to the use, or even excess space in some hospitals.
Dr. Shah says they should be ready in the next ten days to set up the first outside triage facility, though there is no decision yet where that would be.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus