Maine shares plan to ease healthcare workforce shortage after hospital halts some admissions

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Maine Gov. Janet Mills is addressing the state's efforts to combat a shortage of healthcare workers after Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston temporarily suspended admissions of pediatric and trauma patients, according to New England Cable News.

Central Maine Medical Center announced Oct. 12 it would temporarily suspend the admissions amid acute nursing staffing shortages in key areas. The hospital said it also notified state officials that it will close its neonatal intensive care unit Oct. 25 because of staff resignations over the state's COVID-19 vaccination mandate.

The announcement prompted some Maine lawmakers to call for a test-out option as part of the state mandate — an option opposed by the governor, according to New England Cable News.

Ms. Mills emphasized her position against a test-out option in a statement issued Oct. 12, while outlining her plan to address healthcare staffing.

"Healthcare workers must take every precaution to protect themselves and those they serve," she wrote in her statement. "Regular testing is not nearly as effective at protecting peoples' health as vaccination, which is why it is not a part of our policy."

Ms. Mills also said the state will do everything possible "to ensure access to health services for Maine people if Central Maine Medical Center employees refuse to be vaccinated and leave their jobs."

Meanwhile, she said she has directed the Maine Department of Health and Human Services to continue working with Central Maine Medical Center, along with surrounding hospitals, to support critical health services for residents.

Jackie Farwell, a spokesperson for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, said the state has offered to provide Central Maine Healthcare help with testing supplies, protective gear and staff issues, according to the Bangor Daily News. Ms. Farwell also said the state later in October will release $146 million set aside for healthcare organizations with workforce struggles and emphasized Maine's position that vaccines are critical to employee and patient safety.

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