New testing procedures reveal new cases of COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Contact: Caroline Cornish
207 662-5146 / ccornish@mmc.org

Portland, Maine – Following the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Maine by the state CDC on Thursday, two additional patients presenting to MaineHealth have preliminary test results that are presumptively positive for the disease.

With NorDx Laboratories, a MaineHealth subsidiary, beginning testing on Wednesday and expanding the scope and speed of testing results in Maine, it was expected that the number of presumptive positive novel coronavirus cases would grow. Because this is a new virus with new testing methods, which may run the risk of falsely positive results, MaineHealth is working very closely with the Maine and federal CDC to confirm these preliminary results.

Within MaineHealth as of Thursday at midnight, two presumptive positive cases have presented. One was screened at an out-patient testing clinic in Portland and is in self-isolation at home. The second individual is being treated in isolation at Maine Medical Center.

In adherence with CDC guidelines, the patient at Maine Medical Center is in isolation and care team members are taking appropriate steps to ensure the health and safety of themselves and those around them.

Maine Medical Center, as with other local MaineHealth hospital organizations, is well prepared to treat patients with coronavirus infections. At each facility, Hospital Incident Command Systems have been activated, and care teams that have trained and planned for this possibility are staying up to date with the latest guidance from the CDC.

“While it is understandably unsettling to members of the community that this outbreak has come to Maine, we are prepared for this across our system,” said Dora Mills, MD, MaineHealth’s chief health improvement officer.

Mills emphasized that patients who believe they may have symptoms of COVID-19 are encouraged to call their health care provider before coming to their doctor’s office, a clinic or the emergency room, where they could spread the disease to others.

Most cases of COVID-19 infection bring flu-like symptoms that are mild to moderate and can be treated at home, Mills said, stressing that patients should only be treated at a hospital in the small minority of cases where symptoms are severe.

“We should take the threat of COVID-19 seriously, but there is no need to panic. As with seasonal flu, there are common-sense steps each of us can take to slow the spread of infection and reduce our chances of getting sick,” said Mills.

To help slow the spread of infection, the CDC recommends community members continue to practice good hand hygiene, stay home when they’re sick and cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue and discard it.

Patients seeking additional information about how MaineHealth is responding to the outbreak of COVID-19 can find it here: https://mainehealth.org/healthy-communities/coronavirus. Those seeking the most up-to-date information on the spread of the virus should visit the CDC’s website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

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About MaineHealth
MaineHealth is a not-for-profit integrated health system consisting of nine local hospital systems, a comprehensive behavioral healthcare network, diagnostic services, home health agencies, and more than 1,700 employed and independent physicians working together through an Accountable Care Organization. With close to 22,000 employees, MaineHealth is the largest health system in northern New England and provides preventive care, diagnosis and treatment to 1.1 million residents in Maine and New Hampshire. It includes Franklin Memorial Hospital/Franklin Community Health Network in Farmington, LincolnHealth in Damariscotta and Boothbay Harbor, Maine Behavioral Healthcare in South Portland, MaineHealth Care at Home in Saco, Maine Medical Center in Portland, Memorial Hospital in North Conway, N.H., Mid Coast-Parkview Health in Brunswick, NorDx in Scarborough, Pen Bay Medical Center and Waldo County Hospital in Rockport and Belfast, Southern Maine Health Care in Biddeford and Sanford, Spring Harbor Hospital in Westbrook and Stephens Memorial Hospital/Western Maine Health Care in Norway. MaineHealth Affiliates include Maine General Health in Augusta and Waterville, New England Rehabilitation Hospital in Portland and St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston. It is also a significant stakeholder in the MaineHealth Accountable Care Organization in Portland.