BAR HARBOR, Nov. 20, 2020 – Julius Krevans will pass on an item on his shopping list if he detects that another shopper near him was not properly masked. He also gives wide berth to individuals who are exercising and breathing heavily – as far as 12 feet away. He has favorite restaurants on MDI but he only does takeout.
Krevans is also “Doctor Krevans,” one of the frontline clinicians at Mount Desert Hospital who has seen Covid-19 up close and is learning every day on how best to treat the disease.
He gives MDI an excellent grade for its handling of the pandemic. “We’ve seen very few person-to-person transmissions here.” Compared with similar communities in states like Idaho, Wyoming or eastern Colorado, the rate of Covid on MDI is less by a “factor or 10 to 20,” said Krevans who worked as a rural doctor in Alaska for 20 years before coming to Maine. MDI also has had zero cases of in-hospital transmissions.
He attributes the low rate to the willingness of the citizenry to effect communal behavior in everyone’s interest. MDI has not reported a new case in almost a week, after a surge of cases in the first half of November.
In total there have been only 31 positive tests on MDI since March, six of whom were visitors from out of the county. At least 17 of the 25 Hancock County positive tests were of MDI residents. There was one admission to MDI Hospital and two patients transferred to other hospitals, one of whom who died. As of this writing, this may be the first week without a positive test in a month.
When asked about the current drug regimen to combat Covid, Krevans said, “The best drug is great nursing.” Nurses in rural hospitals must be the “Jack and Jills of all trades.” From proper application of oxygen to ensuring how patients lie in bed. – “You’d be surprised at how important that is,” Krevans said.
The subject of testing drew a different reaction from Krevans. “It’s our biggest challenge.”
“Starting with the place – where you test – to the person who gives the test, to what supplies are used, to even what part of the nose you swab,” Krevans described an unwieldy array of possibilities which sow confusion and possible mistakes.
The hospital possesses two of its own rapid testing machines but its supply kits are limited. Krevans is waiting for the promised delivery of 50 kits a week to stabilize rapid testing. The hospital is also awaiting shipments of antibody drugs which, he said, have proven to be the most promising drug treatment.
It was reassuring after talking Krevans and hospital CEO Chrissi Maguire this week about the state of the pandemic on the island.
With education and programs such as the Covid-19 task force testing of 200 frontline workers and the high school testing program underway, Maguire is confident MDI will turn the corner. “We’re in excellent shape,” she said.
But Krevans emphasized that it takes only one careless person to ignite a spread such as the breakout at the Kidspeace facility in Ellsworth which issued the following statement Wednesday:
“KidsPeace is happy to report no new cases of COVID-19 associated with the KidsPeace Graham Lake Campus since the last update. The total number of individuals that have tested positive is still at 26 (15 youth and 11 staff members) and 82 negative tests. We are exceptionally pleased to report that 12 of the 15 kids who tested positive are now officially recovered. Similarly, 5 of the 11 staff who tested positive have also recovered and have returned to work.” As of the last report Nov. 15, Ellsworth had by far the highest rate of positive tests in Hancock County with 43.
Right after Halloween, folks went indoors and could not contain their “aerosolized” behavior, Maguire said. Eating and talking are two extremely aerosolizing activities which were more forgiving in an outdoor environment.
For about two weeks after Halloween there was an unquestionable surge on MDI. “But it seemed to have plateaued for us,” Maguire said. There were specific pockets of a “family unit and another social unit” which contributed greatly to the surge on the island, she said.
Krevans is having the same concerns about Thanksgiving and urged residents to wear masks even when inside with friends and relatives.
Special care needed to be taken in break rooms, cafeterias and other congregate settings where people were likely to be unmasked and emitting fine sprays, Maguire said. She worries about the fatigue of the hospital staff who are performing exhausting work as both care workers and social resources for their patients.
QSJ readers may help by donating to the Covid-19 support fund at the hospital … https://www.mdihospital.org/giving/covid-19-preparedness/