Governor Mills announces deployment of National Guard members to ten health facilities across Maine

Administration plan to expand hospital capacity is expected to open around 80 additional hospital hospital beds to treat Maine residents

Governor Janet Mills today announced that members of the Maine National Guard will be deployed to ten healthcare facilities across the state this week to help relieve hospitals facing capacity issues and maintain access to healthcare for inpatients in Maine amid sustained wave of COVID-19. The Mills administration anticipates that these actions, along with other actions it has taken in partnership with the federal government and Maine’s health systems, will provide an estimated total of 80 additional inpatient beds to care for the people of Maine.

Governor Mills activated up to 75 members of the Maine National Guard last week in response to record hospitalizations in Maine during a sustained wave of COVID-19 driven almost entirely by the Delta variant. The majority of people hospitalized in Maine are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. To date, 378 people are hospitalized for COVID-19 in Maine, including 106 in intensive care and 58 on ventilators. There are currently 63 intensive care unit (ICU) beds available in Maine.

The National Guard will be used in non-clinical support roles to: 1) provide support to nursing facilities and swing bed units that accept patients discharged from hospitals with critical care capacity issues; and 2) help deliver monoclonal antibodies to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 and keep people in Maine out of intensive care, preserving the capacity of the intensive care unit (ICU).

Following extensive discussions with hospital systems in Maine, the Governor is deploying 38 National Guard members effective December 16, 2021 as follows:

  1. 15 National Guard members at Saint Joseph’s Manor in Portland and 12 National Guard members at Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC) in Lewiston, which will open approximately 26 additional beds at Saint Joseph’s Manor and approximately 16 swing beds at CMMC. This deployment will increase the capacity of these “decompression sites” and allow hospitals to safely offload more people, relieving a bottleneck that will then allow hospitals to provide hospital care to more people with COVID. -19 and to ensure the provision of health care for other serious health problems. problems.
  2. 11 National Guard members from Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor, Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland and Northern Light Health in Waterville. Two other members of the guard will be deployed to Rumford Hospital in Rumford and Bridgton Hospital in Bridgton on December 27, 2021. These members of the Guard will assist clinical staff in administering monoclonal antibodies to prevent serious illness due to COVID-19 and keep the people of Maine out of intensive care, preserving the capacity of the intensive care unit (ICU).

These deployments were developed in conjunction with Maine Hospital Systems with the goal of complementing existing staff and available resources to immediately open additional beds and meet needs. Together, the measures are expected to provide around 80 beds, although this estimate is subject to change depending on changing circumstances and needs across the health system. Deployments are scheduled until January 26, 2022, as needed.

In addition, the Mills administration is submitting today two new nominations for federal monoclonal antibody teams that include clinicians from Maine Medical Center in Portland and Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. These newly available clinical teams would complement the National Guard’s non-clinical support and enabled the Administration to mobilize less National Guard than originally planned. However, the Mills administration will continue to closely assess capacity in the coming weeks to determine if additional National Guard deployments are needed.

“In consultation with our health systems, I am deploying members of the Maine National Guard across Maine to expand our ability to treat people with COVID-19 and provide care to people in Maine struggling with other serious health problems. ” Governor Janet Mills said. “We will continue to work closely with our health and federal partners to monitor the capacity of our system and take action when and where necessary to support the people of Maine.” Ultimately, the best and most effective way to ease the burden on our heroic healthcare workers is to heed their advice: get vaccinated. “

“Hospitals and healthcare facilities in Maine continue to bear the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic as the Delta variant results in serious illness and death among the unvaccinated in Maine and throughout New England.” said Jeanne Lambrew, commissioner of the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. “Help from the Maine National Guard, as well as federal partners, will help relieve some of the pressure on our valued health workers in critical care settings, but getting the vaccine is still the most important thing you can do. the people of Maine can do to protect each other. , their loved ones and our health system.

“Our members stand ready to support Maine’s heroic healthcare workers and help the state weather this difficult wave of COVID-19,” said Major-General Douglas Farnham, adjutant general of Maine. “We thank the Department of Health and Human Services for their partnership and look forward to working with them and others to expand the capacity of the Maine Hospital. The people of Maine can continue to rely on the Maine National Guard. “

“As Maine continues to fight a wave of COVID-19, our hospitals are doing their best to treat patients and ensure access to vital health care for the people of Maine,” said Tim Dentry, President and CEO of Northern Light Health. “We thank Governor Mills and his administration for providing these additional resources, which will help keep patients out of intensive care and support our already stressed staff during this difficult time of the pandemic. We look forward to continuing to work with the administration to get more Mainers vaccinated, which is the most important step people can take. “

“Over the past few weeks, we have worked closely with the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Social Services Lambrew and her team to assess our needs and plan the best use of available resources in order to increase the members of our team. dedicated but exhausted. said Steven G. Littleson, President and CEO of Central Maine Healthcare. “We look forward to the addition of National Guard personnel to CMMC this week. They will provide much needed support, which will allow us to open additional beds for patients who need rehabilitation and nursing care before they can leave the hospital. We are deeply grateful to Governor Mills and Commissioner Lambrew for activating the Maine National Guard and for developing a plan to use these precious resources in the most efficient way as we all continue our heroic battle against the pandemic. . “

These actions complement the administration’s requests last week for federal COVID-19 emergency response teams to be dispatched to Maine to assist Maine Medical Center in Portland and CMMC in Lewiston. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved the Administration’s request for the MMC, and a team of 15 medical professionals from the National Disaster Medical System of the US Department of Health and Human Services is arrived on Saturday to provide direct patient care for the next two weeks in a new non-COVID acute care unit, allowing MMC to provide 11 additional beds for adult patients. The Mills Administration continues to communicate with FEMA regarding its second request, on behalf of Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, which is pending.

The Mills administration has also taken new steps to ease pressure on hospitals, including temporarily removing staff ratios in healthcare facilities to allow them to accept more patients discharged from hospitals, freeing up 24 hospital beds. hospital since November 23, 2021. To help begin treating behavioral health capacity constraints at Westbrook and Bangor hospitals, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services is also accepting five psychiatric patients this week at the Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta and at the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center in Bangor, which should free up 5 hospital beds.

The Mills Administration also uses the Maine Responds Emergency Health Volunteer System, which organizes health care, public health, and emergency response volunteers to respond to emergencies.

To support the recruitment and retention of healthcare workers, the governor provided $ 60 million in temporary Medicaid rate increases in 2020, $ 40 million in one-time payments to hospitals, nursing homes and care providers health care in the summer of 2021, and $ 146 million from last month’s biennial budget in one-time additional COVID-19 payments to hospitals and healthcare facilities to support their staff and patient care.

The Maine National Guard is a part-time military force of nearly 3,000 men and women who serve their communities, state and nation. More than 100 National Guardsmen have already received orders to support COVID-19 response efforts and have been used to inventory and deliver personal protective equipment (PPE), testing supplies and vaccines; staff screening centers and vaccination clinics; support case investigation and laboratory testing; and serve in non-clinical roles in long-term care facilities.

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