The Star-Herald

Presque Isle hospital begins reopening patient care services

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Northern Light AR Gould Hospital has slowly begun to expand many of its services that have been delayed or restricted in the past several weeks due to the COVID-19 crisis.  This expansion of care is being done in a planned, deliberate way, with strict guidelines to keep people safe.   

“During this crisis, we took the steps necessary to best protect our patients, our staff, and our community by postponing all elective or non-urgent patient interactions, such as elective surgeries, well-patient visits, and certain imaging tests,” Jay Reynolds, MD, senior physician executive at the hospital, said.  “While the COVID-19 crisis is not over, we know many of our patients cannot continue to wait for care. Medical needs that could wait two months ago are not something that can wait indefinitely. Patients need access to the high-quality care they depend on.”

Some practices and services began the process of reaching out to patients last week to reschedule appointments that had been postponed due to COVID-19.  Others will begin doing so in the coming days and weeks as the hospital takes a phased approach for safely expanding access to care. 

The Mars Hill Health Center and the Women’s Health Center, two primary care practices that have been closed for several weeks, will reopen on Monday, May 18.  The Caribou Health Center, which had temporarily only been seeing pediatric patients, will also begin seeing adult patients again on May 18.  Providers and staff who had been deployed to other areas will be returning to these centers as well as to their normal duties at the primary care practices in Fort Fairfield and Presque Isle, which have remained open.  

There will be no expanded hours at any of the practices at this time. Drop in service for lab work will continue to be provided only at the hospital or the Fort Fairfield Health Center.  Lab work at the other locations will be provided by appointment only. 

While all five primary care practices will once again be open, patients with fever and shortness of breath will continue to be seen only at North Street in Presque Isle, either in the primary care practice or at the Walk-In Care clinic.  Additionally, the Pediatrics practice at North Street will reserve the morning for well-children needs and will see “sick” children in the afternoon.  These steps are to try to limit the exposure of patients to those who are potentially contagious. 

Walk-In Care at North Street remains open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for all patients who need immediate care or don’t have a designated primary care provider.  This includes patients with or without a fever or respiratory symptoms.

Additional safety protocols at all Northern Light AR Gould facilities include the following.

Universal masking — All employees, patients and visitors must wear a mask or face covering.

Screenings — Patients and visitors are screened for suspicious symptoms, travel history and other considerations.

Restricted visitation — Our facilities remain closed to visitors other than those with identified exceptions.

Social distancing — Our waiting rooms have been arranged to accommodate for social distancing, and whenever possible patients will be brought directly to a treatment room rather than to a waiting room. At some locations, patients may be asked to wait in their vehicle until staff ask them to come inside. 

Disinfection — We have increased the frequency of disinfection of surfaces, equipment, treatment rooms, and common areas.

Telehealth — From primary care to specialty care, telehealth visits will continue to be offered so patients can get the care and guidance they need without leaving home. 

Submitted by the Communications Office of Northern Light AR Gould Hospital.

 

 

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