March 24, 2021
The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC) Public Health Nurses (PHNs) are trained to deliver a diverse array of services in Maine communities, from providing direct care and community-based health education, to infectious disease prevention and investigation, and contributing to the development of public health policy. This skillset has proven especially critical during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the COVID-19 public health emergency was declared in March 2020, Maine CDC PHNs immediately began filling critical needs in Maine’s early crisis response, and their work has continued throughout the pandemic and into the State’s vaccination effort.
Since March 2020, PHNs have:
- Supported the launch of the COVID-19 Nurse Advisement Line and trained a team of 211 volunteer nurses who have answered over 1,700 calls from health care providers and the public related to COVID-19
- Conducted and provided support for COVID-19 case investigations and contact tracing
- Assisted 132 school nurses, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities in drafting Respiratory Protection Programs so their staff could be properly fit tested to ensure the effectiveness of PPE, including N95 masks
- Created educational resources on the proper use of PPE
- Provided “catch up” immunization clinics to help parents ensure children remained up to date on required vaccinations after many well-child visits were postponed or canceled in the early days of the pandemic
- Worked with the Maine Community College System to develop an online training program for student ambassadors to prepare them to work over the summer in tourist hot spots in Cumberland and York counties to educate about COVID-19 symptoms, testing sites and prevention
PHNs are also playing a vital role in statewide vaccination efforts, especially those focused on reaching Mainers in long-term care and skilled-nursing facilities. Under Maine’s age-based approach to vaccination eligibility, scores of older Mainers most at risk of serious illness and death from COVID-19 are receiving vaccinations. To date, PHNs have administered nearly 3,000 doses of vaccine (both first and second doses), including to staff and low-income older Mainers in 40 supportive long-term care facilities. PHNs have also supported community vaccination efforts in underserved areas, traveling to some of Maine’s most remote communities, such as Chebeague Island and Pembroke, where PHNs set up vaccine clinics for eligible residents to ensure they have access to vaccination.