LincolnHealth reports 21 cases Aug. 30-Sept. 5, staffing shortage woes

Thu, 09/09/2021 - 8:30am

    LincolnHealth reported 21 new cases out of 485 tests for the week of Aug. 30 to Sept. 5. Totals remain steady while the amount of testing has varied over the past several weeks resulting in percent-positives between 4.3% and 5.25%.

    Director of Communications John Martins said the Delta variant continues its surge in Maine and breakthroughs – five of the 21 cases – represent nearly 30% of cases.

    “Testing numbers rose … and with school being back in session, we anticipate that we may see higher testing counts in our next report,” said Martins.

    Staffing shortages are also presenting challenges to some services on both Miles and St. Andrews campuses. As a result, outpatient laboratory service hours will change on both campuses. The Miles Campus lab will run from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; Watson Center, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday; and St. Andrews Family Care Center, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday and from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesday and Friday.

    “The goal is to restore regular hours as soon as we recruit and train sufficient staff,” said Martins. “This is outpatient lab only. Inpatient lab services will remain available.”

    While LincolnHealth is not planning to reduce services, administrators continue to evaluate how changes in support can improve areas where staffing is needed, said Martins. “We’ve seen some resignations due to the COVID-19 vaccination mandate and we’re looking across our organization to identify where some team members can be reassigned to new areas temporarily.”

    Since the state is not enforcing its vaccination mandate deadline until the end of October, staff will have until Oct. 15 to receive their second Moderna or Pfizer vaccine dose or first and only Johnson and Johnson dose, Martins said. LincolnHealth will extend vaccination clinics for staff until then, he said.

    About 87% of LincolnHealth staff have been vaccinated, are scheduled for their second dose to meet the deadline, or have been granted deferral due to medical reasons. One exemption has been granted. Martins said human resources has been speaking with those who have not been vaccinated and 3% have indicated they do not intend to get the vaccine. Several are still undecided.

    Visitation policies changed Sept. 8 for the Miles Campus emergency department and St. Andrews Urgent Care. One escort is allowed for one adult and two parents or guardians for pediatrics at the Miles Campus emergency department. Visitors must remain with the patient, as hallways and waiting rooms are off limits. St. Andrews Urgent Care will not allow visitors due to the difficulty of maintaining six feet of social distance.

    The Miles Cafe will continue to serve only Miles staff, but as of Sept. 27, hours will change to 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hot meals, salads, pre-made sandwiches and afternoon and evening shifts will not be served. Snacks and beverages will be available and patients will not be impacted by changes.