Hospital CEOs talk about Covid testing in Aroostook County

Published: Sep. 14, 2021 at 4:37 PM EDT
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - Testing is an important part of stopping the spread of covid 19. Continuing our series with the four local hospital CEOs, they discuss available testing options as numbers rise, especially for those planning to travel.

Peter Sirois the CEO of Northern Maine Medical Center says; “We’re testing quite heavily right now, from children wanting to go back to school, from an employees needing it and patients. We are still testing for people who want to travel into Canada. As of today, we’re going to slow it down. We were 50 or 60 a day just for people traveling. and so that’s running about a hundred a day just dealing with all patients, not only travelers. So we’re getting inundated right now and we’re not able to keep up. So we are actually dropping it to only 25 a day for travelers going into Canada. And I know it’s going to upset some people, but patients have to come first. And right now the travelers will have to wait. I feel bad for people who really want to go see their families and travel into Canada, but we cannot do it by ourselves. So as of tomorrow, we’re dropping our number to 25 limit every day and people will have to schedule appropriately I guess. We’ll revisit it next week once maybe things slow down, but right now we have to limit it. Not because of supply, it’s just the demand. There’s only so many hours in a day to run these tests and they’re run six at a time in a machine. And so it runs 24/7, the 2 of them that we have, and we can only do so many.”

Shawn Anderson the CEO of Houlton Regional Hospital says; “Obviously, we’re in Houlton right, at the, what we would like to call the beginning of I-95, not the end. So there there’s a high demand of people that are coming up I-95, some, most are prepared, that are traveling up from States, not here in Maine necessarily. Most are prepared, there are many that aren’t, so we’re providing the travel testing service, but like Peter, it is a very resource intensive process and we can only do what we can do. We will not sacrifice patient care for it, it’s just not in our makeup to do so. So, we will continue as long as we can, I will tell you it’s a day by day decision to be able to do that, we’re working very closely with the border patrol and we’re in constant contact with them, about the need for cross border testing. But it’s a day by day decision, that we have to make and put our patients first of course.”

Kris Doody, the CEO of Cary Medical Center adds; “Like Pete and Shawn were saying, it’s a moving target, frankly, as it relates to travel, testing for travel. We prioritized our patients first. Then we prioritized our employees, some of our employees who traveled because we want to make sure that they get tested and we have results before they come back to work. We need them at the hospital. We need them in the Pines practices. So they’re prioritized. So unfortunately we are not offering Travel testing at this time. And again, that can change just like a lot of things have changed over the last year and a half as it relates to COVID it depends on what’s happening at the time. And right now with the high numbers, I don’t see us offering travel testing, within the next few weeks or so our priorities, our patients and our employees.”

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