Communication is key
There have been confirmed cases of meningitis reported in the Midcoast.
While the cases reported are viral meningitis, a less severe form of the illness, it still should be a cause for concern.
The symptoms are similar to those for bacterial meningitis, which can cause brain damage, hearing loss, learning disabilities and can even be fatal. Because of this, it is important to see a health care provider right away if you think you or your child might have meningitis.
Last week, Regional School Unit 40 issued an alert that people in the community had been diagnosed or thought to have contracted the illness.
Most parents were not notified. The alert was not sent to media outlets — it was posted to the district website.
The superintendent later said parents of students in the same classes with the infected student or who had a parent infected were notified.
We find this problematic.
Not all people have access to the Internet and even if they do, may not regularly be checking a school website. When an illness is contracted that can spread quickly and cause the potential for the loss of life it should be shouted from the rooftops.
Many people could have come into contact with the people who later found out they had meningitis — not just students in the child's class.
When it was learned last week that a woman in Durham, who served food to more than 100 people at a church supper, later found out she had Hepatitis A, the state issued a public health notice and the Centers for Disease Control immediately set up a vaccination clinic in response.
In cases such as this, the district should call or email all parents in all of the schools just as they do when school is closed for a snowstorm. Why isn't the state involved in this case as it was the Durham case? Where are our local health officials?
Parents should also take this as a reminder to check their school websites frequently for important information.
While officials may think it might cause mass panic, it is important to inform the community as a whole — it could save a life.
Happy birthday LifeFlight
It is hard to imagine a time when Maine did not have LifeFlight, the world class medical helicopter service that rushes critical patients to the hospitals they need.
The organization celebrated its 15th year Oct. 12 at a gala at the Owls Head Transportation Museum.
Seeing a father from Belfast hugging the daughter he almost lost to a skiing accident drove home for us the importance of the program. Countless stories of the lives saved by this service were recounted during the event and are available on LifeFlight's website.
What resonated for us was that LifeFlight not only flies to the scenes of accidents, but it represents a coordination between hospitals, firefighters, police, paramedics, doctors, nurses, pilots and countless others. As one speaker explained it, LifeFlight changed the face of medical practices in the state of Maine. It takes all of the resources available and squeezes the most out of them to dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes to bring medical care to people in critical need.
Also pointed out was the passion that members of the LifeFlight team have to be the best they can be and to support each other.
Keep up the good work and never stop striving.