Skip to main content

Memorial ends its COVID emergency; stays prepared

July 14, 2021

Contact: Tim Kershner, Director of Communications and Public Affairs
603-356-5461 ext. 2198
TKershner@memorialhospitalnh.org

NORTH CONWAY, NH – By March 9, 2020, a novel coronavirus -- SARS-CoV-2 – was gaining a foothold in North America. Memorial Hospital in North Conway had already spent several weeks reviewing the hospital’s readiness for a pandemic, staffing and other key resources. It was that day, March 9, that Memorial President Art Mathisen officially placed the hospital in an emergency status.

Memorial’s emergency status – a ‘Code White’ – ends Friday July 16, 2021 after 494 days. Memorial officials are quick to point out that “standing down” their emergency operations does not mean the threat of COVID-19 has been eliminated.

“There are still numerous COVID-19 cases each day in New Hampshire and often in our community, and emerging variants continue to worry us,” says Memorial President Art Mathisen. “Ending our emergency response reflects our assessment of risk for our community and allows us to focus resources to other patient care areas.” If needed, he says, “the Hospital can quickly return to a Code White.”

After the initial rush of vaccinations in December and January, rates have slowed considerably. The Memorial vaccine clinic, once open five-days-per week, is now only open Wednesdays from 8 am until 4 pm. The hospital, however, has been taking its clinic to public spaces, such as Settler’s Green and this weekend’s OutdoorFest in Schouler Park, to help make receiving a vaccine more convenient.

Memorial recently scaled back its COVID-19 vaccine administration and ended, at least for now, COVID-19 testing except as part of a health visit in the emergency department or walk-in clinic.
The hospital will continue offering COVID-19 testing for individuals presenting with symptoms to the emergency department, walk-in clinic or scheduled appointment in primary care as part of a health visit. While fewer employers and organizations are requiring a negative test to return to work or participate in activities, COVID-19 tests and test kits for asymptomatic testing are readily available through local pharmacies and health centers.

Mathisen reminds the community that at the beginning of its Code White, Memorial adopted what some considered strict requirements for hospital access to ensure patient and employee safety. These requirements included excluding all hospital visitors, suspending its volunteer program, and, for a short time, severely reducing non-essential health visits, procedures and surgeries.

“As we learned more about the virus over the past 494 days, how the virus spreads, and how to ensure safety, we’ve been able to slowly return operations since our first shutdown last March,” Mathisen says. “Our first responsibility is to our patients. So, we started with them and created a plan to re-open our primary and specialty care practices so they would not have to delay care.”

He added that the hospital visitor restrictions have also eased, though hours and number of visitors per patient are still limited. The other lesson learned over the past 494 days, says Mathisen, is the work and sacrifices this community experienced to keep friends and neighbors safe.

“I cannot say enough about how this community pulled together to make sure our residents and guests were safe. It was hard. We all know it was hard. And even though we are in a new phase, it is still not over. But, I am very pleased where we are today as a hospital and community,” says Mathisen.

###

About Memorial Hospital
Memorial Hospital is a not-for-profit 25-bed Critical Access Hospital located in North Conway, NH, and is a member of the MaineHealth family. Its hospital services include a 24-hour emergency department, surgery center, clinical laboratory, heart health & wellness programs, imaging services, cardiopulmonary care, family birthing center, oncology, chemotherapy and infusion services. Practices include primary care and family medicine, diabetes care, behavioral health, women's health, podiatry, orthopedics and physical therapy. Memorial Hospital is also home to The Merriman House nursing home, which provides senior care services in a comfortable, home-like setting. For more information, www.memorialhospitalnh.org  or call 603-356-5461.

News from Around MaineHealth

View All
Memorial’s newest pediatrician reminds parents “babies don’t come with an instruction manual”
Memorial Hospital’s newest pediatrician has some simple advice for new parents. Follow your baby’s lead. They’re the boss.
Memorial Hospital and White Mountain Community College partner to create Medical Assistant Apprenticeship Program
Memorial Hospital recently welcomed eight new Medical Assistant (MA) students. The students are participating in the hospital’s first-ever Medical Assistant Apprenticeship Program, in partnership with White Mountains Community College.
Memorial Returns to Emergency Status
Just a few weeks after emerging from its emergency status due to COVID-19, Memorial Hospital has once again declared a "Code White."
MaineHealth to Require Care Team COVID-19 Vaccinations as Condition of Employment
As MaineHealth seeks to limit the spread of COVID-19, vaccination will be a requirement for employment, with very few exceptions, as of Oct. 1, 2021.
Memorial Hospital Holds 41st Annual Golf Tournament to Support Enhancement of Pediatric Services
Memorial Hospital held its 41st Annual Golf Tournament on July 22 at the North Conway Country Club with 132 golfers in attendance.
MaineHealth makes significant workforce investment, raising wages for its care team members starting Aug. 8
In addition to a base wage increase for nearly all employees, the minimum pay rate across the health system will rise from $14 to $17 an hour, and market adjustments will be made for hard-to-fill roles.
Memorial ends its COVID emergency; stays prepared
Memorial’s emergency status – a ‘Code White’ – ends Friday July 16, 2021 after 494 days. Earlier this month, Memorial scaled back its COVID-19 vaccine administration and ended, at least for now, COVID-19 testing except as part of a health visit in the emergency department or walk-in clinic.
Memorial Hospital Changing COVID-19 Vaccine Schedule to One Day per Week and Closing COVID-19 Testing Center
With declines in vaccinations and COVID-19 testing, Memorial Hospital plans to reduce hours at its COVID-19 vaccine clinic and limit COVID-19 testing to only those with symptoms and as part of a visit to the emergency department or walk-in clinic.
Memorial Hospital and Settlers Green Join for June 26 Vaccine Event
Memorial Hospital will hold a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at Settlers Green in North Conway on Saturday, June 26.
New Memorial Pediatrician Advocates “Whole-of-Society” Approach To Connect Kids With Resources
Dr. Charlotte Helvie, Memorial Hospital’s newest pediatrician, believes patient care happens as much in the community as in the exam room.