November 15, 2020

NEMHS EMS Providers test positive for COVID-19

In the interest of transparency and public safety, we are writing to inform you that on Wednesday, November 11, we were notified by the Maine CDC that a member of the North East Mobile Health Services’ (NEMHS) team stationed at our Rockport location tested positive for COVID-19. In addition to our stringent protocols already in place, we instituted all subsequent protocols prescribed in our COVID-19 response plan, which was informed by state and federal CDC guidelines and Maine EMS guidelines. This included the immediate isolation of the positive team member at their home.

Through ongoing contact tracing efforts with the Maine CDC, we identified all exposed team members and placed them under quarantine. However, as healthcare professionals and first responders, they are deemed by the CDC to be “critical infrastructure workers” vital to the continuation of essential functions. This is done to ensure there is no interruption of emergency medical services during a pandemic. Consequently, they were permitted to continue working under the following CDC and Maine EMS guidelines, which we have explicitly followed to ensure public safety.

Of note, the guidelines require a negative Binax test before returning to work, the worker remain asymptomatic, continued testing on 7-day intervals through the 14-day quarantine period, daily pre-work screening, twice daily temperature checks, and the continued wearing of medical-grade PPE, including masks and eye protection. Finally, as a redundancy, NEMHS also requires exposed team members to obtain a PCR test to confirm the Binax test.

After following these guidelines, Maine CDC notified us today that 3 additional asymptomatic team members have since received positive PCR tests after receiving negative Binax tests. Accordingly, they are isolating at home and contact tracing has been expanded to include the close contacts of these additional team members. As an added precaution, we have now ordered all team members stationed at the Rockport location to obtain a PCR test, regardless of suspected exposure.

We understand that this development naturally raises concerns and additional questions. With regard to services, we can confidently state that there will be no interruption of emergency or transport services. With regard to public exposure, that is still being determined by the CDC through contact tracing. Anyone suspected to have been exposed will be contacted by the CDC. We are also including an FAQ with this statement to provide additional detail and assurance that we are stringently following all protocols to protect the public we serve, which is our mission as frontline healthcare professionals.

The COVID-19 pandemic has both exacerbated the need for our mission and our risk of exposure. Our team members accept the increased risk to their own safety to ensure the mission continues, and as an organization, we take all possible measures to ensure their safety and the public’s safety.

To date, our team has responded to 1,690 calls where exposure to COVID-19 was suspected or confirmed. Given that volume, our team understands that despite every best effort contraction is still very possible for frontline healthcare workers, especially as cases continue to spike in our service area, much of which has been designated “yellow” by the state. Their continued service is therefore not only a testament to their selflessness, but to their diligence in following safety protocols as these are our first positive tests of the pandemic.

We will continue to keep you informed of any relevant developments that impact our services or the communities we serve. We welcome any questions or concerns you may have and are dedicated to working with you to alleviate them as we continue to provide the critical services you rely on during this pandemic.

COVID-19 FAQs

1. How far back was exposure determined to have potentially existed?


2. Was the exposure limited to one of your locations or does it include multiple locations?


3. How many people work at the Rockport location?


4. With this impact your services?


5. Were any members of the public exposed, particularly in the performance of the employees’ jobs?


6. If so, what is being done for them and who is monitoring their condition?


7. What if I recently received services from NEMHS and was potentially exposed?


8. Who are the team members that tested positive and what are their positions?


9. When were you made aware of the positive tests?


10. What protocols and precautions have NEMHS taken since the first positive test?


11. Were additional team members exposed? If so, are they under quarantine?


12. When will you have results of the first COVID tests for potentially exposed team members?


13. Did any exposed team members return to work knowing they were positive or symptomatic?


14. Is the Binax test reliable?


15. What are the state and federal CDC guidelines that authorize continued performance for critical infrastructure workers?


16. In light of the false negative Binax tests, are you altering your protocols?


17. Do you know the circumstances of how the initial employee contracted COVID?


18. Was the employee tested out of routine or because they presented symptoms?


19. What is the health status of the positive employees and are they hospitalized?


20. What towns and clients did the team members serve while potentially contagious?


21. Where can we go for additional information?