STATEWIDE — We’re now in the eighth month of the coronavirus pandemic. While rural hospitals have always faced unique challenges, they’re now facing an additional level of uncertainty.
Hospitals haven’t been immune to the financial impacts of a global health crisis.
“Back in March, April and May, we had to close elective services to preserve PPE to be able to take care of what we were anticipating then to be the COVID surge, which is actually here now I think, so there was a big financial impact to hospitals,” said Marie Viennneau, president of both Mayo Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft and C.A. Dean Hospital in Greenville.
It’s a similar situation at the Calais Regional Hospital, where they had filed for bankruptcy right at the start of the pandemic.
“We had overall a reduction of, since then, 20 percent, looking at the first four months of this year and the first four months of last year,” said DeeDee Travis, director of community relations at Calais Regional Hospital. “Our other services went down about 20 to 40 percent as well.”
For some time, Calais Regional Hospital was the only COVID-19 testing site in the area.
“We’ve definitely seen an intake of lab testing with the COVID testing we’re doing but we try to keep that with what we can maintain,” Travis said. “That’s why we only do two hours a day, Monday through Friday. That’s all we could do with the staff that we have.”
Vienneau said workforce is something they also struggle with even outside of a pandemic.
Right now, those hospitals are offering COVID testing as well as acute assessment clinics.
“We are staffing and resourcing those things along with doing our regular care, so it’s been challenging,” Vienneau said. “But we’ve had some really great people that have been flexible, taking on new roles, and really doing what needs to be done for taking care of our communities.”
But however many challenges these hospitals face, administrators said they’ll always do anything they can to care for patients.
They just ask people wear masks and stay safe.