TURNER — Rep. Josh Morris, lead Republican on the Maine Legislature’s Healthcare and Insurance committee, is calling on Governor Mills to allow the healthcare worker testing option requested by Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC) and others over two months ago. The Governor’s denial of that simple, common sense request resulted in an exodus of hundreds, if not thousands, of healthcare workers from hospitals, nursing and assisted living facilities and emergency service providers.
“Maine’s healthcare system was already at a near breaking point when Governor Mills refused the request from CMMC and others for a testing option,” said Rep. Morris. “Governor Mills created a full-blown crisis that needlessly places everyone in Maine at risk, in the event that they require medical care over the holidays. By the Governor’s own admission, several hundred “heroes” were forced out of their jobs by her healthcare mandate. Now she is relying on up to 75 members for the Maine National Guard and help from the Biden Administration.
Governor Mills needs to face reality, heed the advice of people on the frontlines, and allow a testing option to allow healthcare professionals to return to work safely. On the national level, the Cleveland Clinic and other major hospital chains have reversed their vaccine mandates because they can’t get enough staff on shift to keep patients safe. Governor Mills needs to follow their lead. She has the power to bring people back to work in a manner proven safe, with mandated testing and PPE use.
Time is of the essence. Every day, people in my district, and throughout Maine, are being forced to go to Bangor or Portland for certain types of trauma care. The lack of staff to open beds, travel-time required, road conditions, and postponing of cancer screenings and surgeries can be life-threatening. Governor Mills has the power to change this situation and protect our health and well-being.”
This was known to the Governor after she mandated that up to 10,000 Maine healthcare workers get vaccinated against Covid-19 by October 1, or lose their jobs, and refuses a bipartisan request from healthcare providers for a healthcare worker testing option:
- Maine General Health lost additional employees after announcing previously that they lost nearly 200 employees.
- Central Maine Medical Center was forced to suspend emergency Room admissions for certain patients and close their Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, one of only five in Maine.
- Additional healthcare systems have announced reductions in services
- Maine Medical center has now temporarily closed six additional operating rooms to free up staff and will cut the number of “non-emergency” surgeries it performs in half.
- Reductions in available healthcare workers caused patients seeking care to be diverted, turned away, or wait extended periods of time for the medical procedures they need.
- Routine cancer screenings have been delayed, posing potential health risks in the future.
- Delays in ambulatory services potentially compromise access to timely healthcare and outcomes.
- The President and CEO of the Maine Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, reported that five nursing homes and one assisted-living facility have closed. Because there are fewer beds available, hospitals have no place to discharge patients. The association predicted that Maine nursing homes will ultimately lose up to 10 percent of their workforce.
- Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston will stop providing neurosurgery in April and is limiting several trauma surgeries effective immediately.
By reducing the number of Maine healthcare workers, Governor Mills placed anyone needing medical attention or placement in a nursing home or assisted living center at risk.