Gov. Janet Mills announced 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. As of Dec. 8, there are a record high 379 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine, including 117 in critical care and 60 on ventilators. There are currently 42 available intensive care unit (ICU) beds available in Maine.
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.
According to Maine.gov, the Maine National Guard
…will provide 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. (Also) 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.