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COVID-19 admissions rise to record levels with EMMC, MaineGeneral load bearing

Admissions for COVID-19 continue to rise across Maine, breaking records of both early admissions across the country and for patients in intensive care, where much of the burden arises at medical centers serving central, western and eastern Maine.

The total number of confirmed COVID-1

9 inpatients across the country hit 90 on Friday, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 50 percent higher than the worst day of the spring. In terms of concern, the majority of these inpatients were in intensive care – 49 across the country, the highest level since the pandemic began and well above the spring wave of 27.

Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor carries the greatest burden for any hospital in the state, with an average of 14.3 confirmed COVID-19 inpatients treated every day of the week ending Thursday. This figure represented a high pandemic for the hospital, the tertiary care center for large parts of eastern and northern Maine, and was well above the average of 8.9 for the previous week and 4.7 the week before. By comparison, the EMMC had gone the entire month of September without the admission of such a patient and had only a handful in August and the first half of October.

MaineGeneral broke its record for confirmed COVID-19 inpatients during the third week with an average of 12.1 treated each day of the week ending Thursday, up from 9.9 the previous week. During the summer months, there were many weeks where Augusta Hospital had no COVID-19 inpatients at all.

For most of the pandemic, the Maine Medical Center in Portland has treated about half of the state’s COVID-19 inpatients, as it serves as the center of tertiary care for the populated southwestern third of the state. But in the new wave, the hospital has not seen such a sharp increase as its counterparts further up Interstate 95. MaineMed’s COVID-19 admission burden of 9.4 a day was actually down in the hair from last week, when it stood at 9, 9, although it was higher than the 3.6 week before. It is also well below the peak of spring, as it treated more than 30 COVID-19 inpatients at any given time.

Over the past week, as forecast models predicted hospitalization would continue for several weeks, officials at all three hospitals and at Central Maine Medical Center in the Lewiston Press Herald said they would be able to meet demand by changing staff and beds from optional surgeries if needed. But they also expressed concern that their own staff were being exposed while they were not at work, which would create ripple effects in a condition that lacked nurses and respiratory technicians, even before the pandemic hit.

Both Lewiston hospitals also broke records of COVID-19 admissions this week. These more than double at CMMC and go from 2.9 per. Day last week to 6.6 this week. Two weeks ago it had 1.7 and 0.9 the week before that. The city’s second hospital, St. Mary’s, had its busiest week ever with an average of 4.3 COVID-19 inpatients a day, up from 1.6 the previous period.

For those hard hit by the disease, hospitalizations typically follow the initial exposure to the disease by one to three weeks, suggesting that the trend is getting worse given the rapid steady increase in newly diagnosed cases. Over the past three weeks, Maine has repeatedly broken its daily record for new COVID-19 cases, suggesting hospitalization will continue to grow.

Admissions increased at both York County hospitals. Southern Maine Health Care Medical Center in Biddeford, which averaged 4.4 daily COVID-19 admissions this week, up from 3.1 the week before. York Hospital in York, a much smaller facility, set a record for the entire pandemic of 4.1 per. Day, sharply up from 1.4 the week before, with a record high of 6 such patients treated on Wednesday and Thursday.

Mercy Hospital in Portland remained quiet with an average of 3 patients a day, up from 1.7 last week. Brunswick’s Mid Coast Hospital averaged 1.9 per. Day this week, down from 3.6 last week.

During the spring and summer, it was typical to have one or two of Maine’s smaller hospitals reported having a pandemic hospitalized or two for a few days and then go weeks or even months without one. But in the last month, many of these smaller hospitals have had inpatients at the same time. In the week ending Thursday, these included the Franklin Memorial in Farmington, Waldo General in Belfast, Sebasticook Valley in Pittsfield, PenBay Medical Center in Rockport, Inland Hospital in Waterville, Blue Hill Hospital, AR Gould in Presque Isle, Maine Coast Hospital in Ellsworth and the Mayo Regional of Dover-Foxcroft, who had COVID-19 inmates for the first time, including 3 Wednesday alone.

Admissions are a delayed indicator, typically occurring one to three weeks after a person is exposed to the disease, but unlike other measurements, it does not depend on who and how many people were tested. They can end in three ways: recovery, death, or transfer to another facility.

The Press Herald’s investigation is in the seven days ending Thursday. It collects data directly from the hospitals and the hospital network. The data do not include outpatients or inpatients who were suspected of having the virus but never tested. It includes most of the state hospitals and accounts for the vast majority of state admissions reported each week by the Maine CDC.

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