Hospital admissions on the rise

ELLSWORTH — Hospitalization records continue to be set amid the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
On Dec. 7, the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that a record high of 367 people were receiving inpatient care, up from 361 the day before.

The Maine CDC also reported that 110 people were in critical care, down from a high of 112 the day before. Fifty-nine people were reportedly on ventilators Dec. 7, down from another pandemic high of 60 the day before.
Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah called Dec. 6 “a dark day” via Twitter.

With hospitalizations climbing, how are local hospitals faring?

“At Mount Desert Island Hospital, 57 positive COVID-19 cases were recorded in the month of November — the highest to date — while hospitalizations rose from an average of one per week to five by the end of the month,” according to a public service announcement released by the hospital Dec. 2.

“Overload of the hospital system statewide is impacting the availability of surgery, inpatient care and emergency transportation,” said Dr. J.R. Krevans Jr., the hospital’s chairman of infection control. “We urge everyone in our community to get vaccinated and boosted if you have not done so yet.”

Northern Light Maine Coast and Blue Hill hospitals also have been treating cases.

“Many hospital beds across Maine, including ours, are occupied by COVID-19-positive patients,” Kelley Columber, the director of communications for the two hospitals, told The American. “We urge community members to take steps to help keep one another safe so we can keep our hospitals available for those who need us. This includes masking indoors in public places, practicing good hand hygiene and getting vaccinated.”

Despite the occupied beds, Columber said the hospitals have not had to delay or cancel any other procedures.
“Clinical leadership regularly discusses capacity, staffing and surge plans to ensure that we continue to provide safe, high-quality care for our communities,” she said.

Columber noted that staffing challenges exist, but changes have not had to be made to services to accommodate the volume of COVID patients.

“We currently have openings for clinical positions at both hospitals and have been working hard to recruit highly skilled staff to join our care teams,” she said.

In addition to the record hospitalizations, the Maine CDC reported 12 COVID-related deaths Dec. 7.
Locally, Robert Lowell Higgins, 56, of Hancock passed away Dec. 2 from complications of COVID-19, according to his obituary published in the Dec. 9 edition of The American.

With the state pushing for more Mainers to get vaccinated – and some citizens reporting issues scheduling appointments – a new, drop-in vaccine clinic opened at the Augusta Armory Dec. 7.

The clinic is slated to operate through at least the end of the year and offers free first, second, booster and pediatric doses of the three vaccines against COVID-19, according to a Dec. 7 press release from the office of Governor Janet Mills.

“I thank our partners at [Maine Emergency Management Agency] and the National Guard for their work to get shots into arms, and I encourage all Maine people to take advantage of this new drop-in clinic in Augusta, which will be open after typical work hours, to get their free vaccine today,” Mills said in the statement.


Rebecca Alley

Rebecca Alley

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]

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