Northern Light says residents, staff testing negative after outbreak in Mars Hill facility

3 years ago

MARS HILL, Maine — More than a week after the Maine CDC opened an investigation into Northern Light Continuing Care in Mars Hill, officials said that strict testing and visitation protocols prevented the outbreak from becoming like others that have struck long-term care facilities in The County.

The investigation into Continuing Care opened after three employees received positive test results, according to a list of long-term care facility outbreaks from the Maine CDC.

The first employee tested positive on Jan. 9, Karen Gonya, communications manager for Northern Light AR Gould Hospital and affiliated healthcare facilities, said. Two more employees tested positive soon after that. Continuing Care had been testing all employees and residents on a weekly basis but conducted additional testing as soon as they were made aware of the first positive case.

A second round of testing is now complete, with no positive results for residents or employees,” Gonya said. 

None of the three employees were in clinical positions that required contact with residents, she said. Two of those employees have since returned to work after self-isolating while the other remains in isolation. The investigation has found that two of the positive cases were a result of community exposure while the other person was exposed to the virus at work.

The results of the outbreak at Continuing Care are a stark contrast with outbreaks that occurred at Presque Isle, Caribou, Eagle Lake and Madawaska in December and January, resulting in 19 deaths total. Gonya said that strict testing, visitation and safety protocols likely played a role in preventing a larger outbreak.

“We had already ended inside visitation in our facility prior to this outbreak due to the increasing number of cases in the community,” Gonya said. “We continue to have daily screening of staff, twice daily temperature checks of residents, mandatory masking at all times, personal protective equipment, physical distancing and frequent hand hygiene. New residents admitted to the facility are first required to have a COVID-19 test and are also quarantined for 14 days upon admission.”

This outbreak marks the second COVID-19 scare at the Continuing Care facility. In July, secondary testing of 200 residents and employees came back negative after an employee tested positive.