PORTLAND, Maine – Governor Janet Mills said she plans to deploy more members of the Maine National Guard to relieve the state’s overburdened healthcare system after visiting the emergency department at the largest hospital in the city on Friday ‘State.
The Democratic governor told reporters at Maine Medical Center in Portland that his office was considering “all avenues possible” to provide support to facilities, which are struggling to maintain services during the current COVID-19 outbreak. She did not specify how many additional National Guard members she could deploy.
It comes after Mills took further emergency action to bolster the health workforce in December, including deploying more than three dozen guards to fill support roles in hospitals and nursing homes and helping treatment with monoclonal antibodies. The federal government also sent ambulance teams to eight hospitals in Maine.
The public health system has been functioning in recent months as cases of COVID-19 have increased alongside hospitalizations. The super-contagious variant of omicron – which escapes vaccine protection more than other strains but is relatively benign – is expected to skyrocket Maine cases in the coming weeks. Hospital officials are already worried about its effect with staff already under Mills’ vaccine mandate falling ill or being exposed to the virus.
As of Wednesday, the MaineHealth system globally reported more than 800 absences due to cases or exposure to COVID-19. At Maine Medical Center alone on Friday, Jeff Sanders, the hospital’s president, said 350 workers were absent due to COVID-19.
âOur team is tired, exhausted and frustrated,â said Sanders.
Mills has maintained his position that getting more people vaccinated is the way out of the pandemic, with the majority of hospital patients remaining unvaccinated.
“It’s very clear to me to see the ICU patients and staff working their long hours trying to save lives that these patients are there because they weren’t vaccinated, outright,” he said. she declared. âIt’s the best thing we can do to get past this wave. “