Governor Mills activates Maine National Guard to maintain hospital capacity and ensure care for Maine people

Governor Janet Mills announced yesterday that she has activated additional members of the Maine National Guard to help alleviate short-term capacity constraints at hospitals and maintain access to inpatient health care services for Maine people amid a sustained surge of COVID-19.

The Governor's decision follows discussions with Maine's hospital systems and comes as Maine and the rest of New England experience record hospitalizations during a sustained surge of COVID-19 driven almost entirely by the Delta variant. The vast majority of people hospitalized in Maine are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

To address the increasing strain on hospitals and to maintain access to inpatient health care services, the Governor signed a directive activating up to 75 additional members of the Maine National Guard who will be used in non-clinical support roles to expand capacity at health care facilities by:
  1. providing support to nursing facilities and swing bed units that accept patients discharged from hospitals experiencing critical care capacity challenges. Enhancing the ability of these “decompression sites” to accept more patients will allow hospitals to safely discharge more individuals, relieving a bottleneck that will then allow hospitals to provide inpatient care for more people with COVID-19 and ensure delivery of health care for other serious health problems.
  2. helping administer monoclonal antibodies to prevent serious illness from COVID-19 and keep Maine people out of critical care, preserving intensive care unit (ICU) capacity. Under the Governor's directive, members of the National Guard will deploy beginning next week to locations across Maine. These locations will be determined in the coming days in collaboration with the leadership of Maine's health care systems. It is expected that members of the Guard will be deployed in these critical support staff roles through the end of January 2022, subject to need.
MHCA will update members on the implementation of this effort and is prepared to support members participating in this statewide emergency response once identified. The Governor also announced that her Administration has requested Federal COVID-19 Surge Response Teams on behalf of two Maine hospitals – Maine Medical Center in Portland and Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston – under the Biden Administration's COVID-19 Winter Response Plan. If approved, teams of Federal clinicians, including physicians, nurses, and certified nursing assistants, will supplement existing staff and members of the Maine National Guard to provide care for those with COVID-19. MHCA anticipates this request will help preserve critical Strike Force Team resources that are specifically allocated for nursing home utilization. In addition to outbreaks, the State is developing criteria for nursing homes to request this support during times of extreme staffing shortages.

A copy of the directive from the Governor is attached.

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