Skip to main content

At Memorial Hospital, preparations continue for COVID-19

March 05, 2020

Virus Emergency Team
(l-r) At Memorial Hospital in North Conway, Erika Roy, RN, Emergency Department Clinical Manager, Will Owen, RN, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, and Andrea Murphy, RN, Infection Prevention, are part of the team preparing the hospital to respond to COVID-19.
Officials at Memorial Hospital in North Conway have been closely watching the progress of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, since early January. While this is a new virus and has caused at more than 3,000 deaths globally, Memorial Hospital President Art Mathisen says the hospital is prepared.

“We’ve been working closely with the New Hampshire Department of Health, the New Hampshire Hospital Association, and our partners in the MaineHealth system to learn as much as we can about how this virus is transmitted and what steps we need to take to diagnose and care for patients who test positive.”

The initial outbreak in China has now spread to almost 80 countries, including the United States. Several individuals in New Hampshire have been tested and the first presumptive case was announced by New Hampshire health officials this early week. Another presumptive case was announced on Tuesday.

This novel, or “new”, Coronavirus is part of a family of viruses that includes the strains MERS and SARS. All are spread primarily through human contact by coughing or sneezing, or by coming in contact with a surface, such as a door knob or counter top.

Mathisen adds “The Centers for Disease Control and the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services are doing a good job of tracking the illness throughout the country and the state and keeping us informed.” He also points out that many individuals have inquired and have gone through the coronavirus screening at the hospital.

Erika Roy, RN, is clinical manager of Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department. She says the COVID-19 screening is a series of questions about risk factors. “Staff are trained to screen for COVID-19 at registration with a series of questions. ‘Do you have a cough, fever, or shortness of breath? Have you travelled outside of the US in past 21 day including China, Japan, Iran, South Korea, or Italy? Have you been in contact with anyone sick with Covid-19 in past 14 days?’ If the patient screening leads to possible Coronavirus exposure, the nurse then follows specific protocols for Covid-19.” The patient is immediately masked and isolated. The hospital then consults with the state department of health which may ask for additional assessments, ask for an initial test, or may refer the case to the Centers for Disease Control for a definitive test. “Only the CDC can confirm the presence of COVID-19,” Roy says.

As the virus spreads and the situation changes, one challenge is ensuring there are the necessary supplies, especially personal protective equipment (PPE), needed to care for patients and keep healthcare worker safe. This is likely due to multiple reasons such as increased demand from both the public and health care organization and manufacturing challenges with the outbreak in China. “We are closely monitoring this situation and collaborating with local and state agencies to ensure we have what we need. We also have the distinct advantage of MaineHealth as a large organization being able to leverage and work with our vendors to try to limit disruptions in distribution.” says Will Owen, RN, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator.

In an email to hospital staff on Monday, Mathisen reviewed some of the activities the hospital is engaged in to prepare for the virus. These include regular updates through webinars with national, state, and local agencies for the latest news on the science behind the virus and suggested responses from health care providers. He also reminded employees to spread the word that the best defense against the family of coronaviruses is basic hygiene. “Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, clean surfaces with disinfectant wipes, and stay home if you’re sick.”


News from Around MaineHealth

View All
Memorial Hospital Reminds Parents to Check Children's Immunization Status
Dr. Wenda Saunders, a pediatrician at Memorial Hospital’s Mt. Washington Rural Health Care is encouraging families to get caught up with immunizations.
Memorial Hospital Adds Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing
Appointments are required for patients without COVID-19 symptoms who would like to be tested.
Memorial Hospital Recognizes Employees and Medical Staff with Annual Awards
Memorial Hospital hosted virtual and socially distant awards ceremonies to honor an Employee of the Year, present a Teamwork Award and recognize staff members for their years of service.
Memorial Hospital Adjusts Visitor Limits
Memorial Hospital has updated its visitor policy, allowing some additional visitors while continuing to focus on patient and staff safety.
Memorial Golf Tournament Tees Up, Addresses Safety Concerns
Golfers usually measure distances in hundreds of yards. When Memorial Hospital hosts its 40th Annual Golf Tournament on July 16, six-feet will be the most important distance to remember.
Credit rating agencies reaffirm strength of MaineHealth
Two credit rating agencies continued to give northern New England’s largest health system high marks for its financial strength even though the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant financial impact.
MaineHealth Receives Over $800,000 in Federal Funding for Telehealth Program
FCC awarded MaineHealth for costs associated with rapidly expanding the health system’s telehealth infrastructure and technology in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
40th Annual Memorial Hospital Open Golf Tournament Is a Go
Proceeds will support Memorial Hospital’s new Medical Assistant program.
Memorial Hospital Announces Healthcare Scholarships
Students studying biology, human development, osteopathic medicine, nursing and athletic training are among the recipients of scholarships from Memorial Hospital’s annual scholarship funds.
MaineHealth and Memorial Hospital establish safety protocols and sets priorities for bringing back some services amid COVID-19
Universal masking, screening and testing protocols are already in place as the health care system brings back surgeries and other procedures for those patients for whom waiting could have medical consequences.