COVID, other respiratory viruses are straining hospital capacity in Maine

By Patty Wight, Maine Public

The two largest hospital systems in Maine are grappling with capacity issues as several viruses are circulating in communities.

Dr. Dora Ann Mills, chief health improvement officer at MaineHealth, said as of Tuesday morning 85 patients were hospitalized across their system with COVID-19 — and 14 young children were hospitalized with RSV or other respiratory viruses.

“It is busy,” she said during an appearance on Maine Calling. “It looks like it’s going to be a very, very busy few weeks or several months in terms of respiratory illnesses.”

Dr. James Jarvis of Northern Light Health, who also appeared on Maine Calling, said Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center is full and some newborns with severe symptoms have been re-admitted at a time when there aren’t many available pediatric beds in the state. He said hospitals in New Hampshire and Massachusetts are also seeing an increase in hospitalizations in children, and if those facilities become, that will affect Maine.

Jarvis added that the workforce shortage is also putting pressure on the health system, as is the lack of capacity at long-term care facilities.

“And all of that just backs up the system,” he said. “And so it makes it a dangerous situation for all. And if we see we start to see even more numbers of COVID-positive patients, more people with influenza who need hospitalization, there’s only so many places we can place them.”

This story appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.

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