HOULTON, Maine — The Madigan Estates nursing home closed its doors to indoor visitation starting Tuesday, April 6, although Madigan administrator Jim Brown said the facility could resume visitations next week if all goes well.
The closure began after it was found that a staff member at Madigan tested positive for COVID-19, having contacted the virus while traveling outside of Houlton. The staff member had not worked at the nursing home since the exposure, but had been in contact with another staff member who had, prompting the closure and requiring all staff members to be tested, Brown said.
“It may be a little overreaction on our behalf, but we feel it’s the right thing to do,” Brown said regarding the testing. “Any type of concern, we evaluate the situation, cover all of our bases and make sure we take every precaution available.”
The nursing home has been in contact with the Maine CDC regarding the positive case and has yet to receive an official response, although signs pointed to being unlikely that it would constitute an official outbreak, according to Brown. According to the CDC, a COVID-19 outbreak is defined as having two or more cases that are discovered to be linked during contact tracing.
While such an exposure may have raised alarm bells several months earlier, Madigan residents and their loved ones can rest easier knowing that most of the residential population and staff members have received vaccine doses, protecting them from the worst of COVID-19 symptoms.
“It’s a tremendous difference from what we’ve faced in the past,” Brown said. “Once we get all our test results back from our employees, assuming they’re all negative, we’ll be able to open back up.”
While positive COVID-19 cases are overall lower in Maine and Aroostook County since January thanks to growing availability of vaccine doses, several cases still persist in the area. A recent outbreak at the Aroostook County Jail in Houlton has resulted in eight total positive cases, according to Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long. As of April 7, there were 64 estimated active cases throughout Aroostook.
“In general, higher statewide and county case counts reflect ongoing community transmission,” Long said. “Wearing masks in public and adhering to physical distancing rules remain the best way for Maine people and visitors to limit potential spread of the virus.”