County hospitals are busy due to illness and staffing

Published: Dec. 15, 2022 at 6:55 PM EST
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AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine (WAGM) - Influenza A has arrived in the County. Between that, Covid and RSV, local hospitals have been very busy.

Kris Doody, CEO at Cary Medical Centers says, “We still have the ongoing issue of getting patients transferred out. That ebbs and flows, but it hasn’t improved dramatically. Trying to get somebody transferred to a bed south has been a challenge for quite some time now. And also, although it’s been a bit better recently, trying to get a patient to a different level of care, like a nursing home has been a challenge, which has occupied some acute care beds. So our beds being occupied at Cary with Covid has definitely changed, but there’s been other factors that have definitely impacted our beds.”

Greg Lafrancois, CEO at Northern Light AR Gould Hospital says, “We fill every bed every day. And so it’s a constant revolving process for us and it really has backed up our emergency department. And so there are long waits in our emergency department as we’re trying to get a discharge so that we can move patients up into those beds. But there has not, gosh, for the last number of months, there’s not been a single empty bed at the end of the day.”

Shawn Anderson, the CEO at Houlton Regional Hospital adds, “Similarly in Houlton, our numbers were of late over the last couple of months we’ve really been teetering right on the edge of being full. We may have 1, 2, 3 beds available, but those are literally the very last of the beds. And normally there are people lined up in the ED ready to consume those beds. So that’s our reality as well.”

According to Dr. Stephanie Gillis from Northern Maine Medical Center, “And at Northern Maine we’re similar to Cary. Our beds are in flux. Sometimes we have more availability, other times we have less. And a lot of that, unfortunately, is also tied up by patient’s awaiting transfer, either to a nursing home or a awaiting transfer to a higher level of care facility. And currently, like I had mentioned before, we have two patients in with influenza A, one with R S V, all adults, all hospitalized at this point. So that’s also influx just based on what we’re seeing and what the need is.”

Doody adds, “One of the other improvements that we’ve seen Kelly, which I know has been a big issue for our community because we were hearing it is, we were going at some on certain days, day to day on whether or not we were going to do elective surgery and canceling surgery like the day before or two days before, because we didn’t have beds. And that’s improved in the last few weeks. We have definitely seen some improvement and, you know, we heard it in the community because when somebody’s having an elective procedure, you know, they make changes in their life. They have family come home. And unfortunately there were many weeks that we just went day to day on whether or not we could do elective procedures the following day based on beds. But that’s improved.”

Lafrancois says, “And I can tell you at our nursing home in Mars Hill, we’ve actually had to reduce the beds down from 72 to 33. And that’s entirely based on staffing. There are no staff available to staff those beds. And of course, that would be a number of beds we could open up to take off a lot of pressure on the medical beds. But, it’s just a real challenge to find the staff, to staff those beds.”

Anderson adds, “Bit of a similar scenario in Houlton. We’ve recently had an area nursing home that has converted their long-term care beds or nursing home beds to residential care beds and those are certainly needed in the community, but the long-term care or nursing home beds are really typically the next level of care for individuals leaving the hospital setting. And so that’s a real hit for the area. And creates a bottleneck in getting patients transferred to that next important level of care.”