Mills deploys National Guard, but not Downeast

ELLSWORTH — Governor Janet Mills announced Dec. 13 that 38 members of the Maine National Guard will be deployed to 10 health-care facilities across the state this week.

The deployment follows the Governor’s announcement last week that up to 75 members of the Guard would be activated to assist in nonclinical, support roles to help alleviate capacity constraints as COVID-19 hospitalizations remain high.

Guard members also will help administer monoclonal antibodies to prevent serious illness and keep critical care beds open for Mainers.

None of the 38 members will be deployed to facilities in the Downeast region.

“Clinical teams at Northern Light Maine Coast and Blue Hill Hospitals are regularly monitoring and assessing all available resources needed to care for the needs of our communities, including bed capacity and staffing,” said Communications Director of Northern Light Maine Coast and Blue Hill hospitals Kelley Columber. “At this time, the hospitals are able to continue with all services, including emergency care and elective procedures and surgeries.”

With this deployment, 15 National Guard members will go to St. Joseph’s Manor in Portland, 12 to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston and 11 between Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, St. Joseph’s Hospital in Bangor, Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, Northern Light Mercy Hospital in Portland and Northern Light Health in Waterville.

On Dec. 27, two additional members will be deployed to Rumford Hospital and Bridgton Hospital.
According to the press release, “The Mills administration anticipates that these actions, coupled with the other steps it has taken in partnership with the federal government and Maine’s health-care systems, will provide an estimated total of 80 additional inpatient hospital beds to care for Maine people.”

Other measures to alleviate the strain on hospitals include waiving staffing ratios at nursing facilities, a temporary move, so that more beds will be freed up for patients to be discharged from hospitals and opening more beds at psychiatric centers.

Staffing shortages are another factor behind the capacity constraints.

“To support recruitment and retention of health-care workers, the Governor has provided $60 million in Medicaid temporary rate increases in 2020, $40 million in one-time payments to hospitals, nursing homes and behavioral health providers in the summer of 2021 and $146 million from the biennial budget last month in one-time COVID-19 supplemental payments to hospitals and nursing facilities to support their staff and patient care,” the press release reads.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that on Dec. 14, a total of 378 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those patients, 123 were in critical care and 60 were on ventilators. The Maine CDC also reported nine COVID-related deaths on Dec. 14.

Rebecca Alley

Rebecca Alley

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]

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