Update: September 9, 2019
The Public Health Nursing Program played a significant role in supporting the health needs of asylum seekers who were temporarily housed at The Expo in Portland from June through August 2019. Soon after families and individuals seeking asylum began arriving at The Expo, public health nurses responded and provided services for nine consecutive days, from June 13 through June 21.
They continued to help meet asylum seekers' health needs on four other days in June, 10 days in July and two days in August. Two public health nurses took part in chickenpox screenings on August 3 and 4 after a case of the contagious disease was confirmed at the temporary shelter.
As public health needs at The Expo shifted and students throughout Maine returning to classrooms, the Public Health Nursing Program began its customary work with local school districts – especially in rural Maine – to minimize the impact of the flu season. For example, public health nurses in Franklin County plan to work with local school staff to vaccinate approximately 400 students in late September or early October.
This fall, the Public Health Nursing Program will resume collaboration with nursing education programs in Maine. The program will be providing training and orientation to three nursing students from the University of Maine at Augusta and 13 undergraduate nursing students from St. Joseph's College in Standish.
The Department of Health and Human Services continues to fill program vacancies. In August, another public health nurse started work in Caribou, joining Caribou-based public health nurse who started work in June. Her arrival will make it possible for the Public Health Nursing Program to help schools in Aroostook County offer flu vaccine clinics, as part of serving the area's broader health needs going forward.
To date in 2019, the Public Health Nursing Program has hired or promoted 11 people to fill nursing vacancies, bringing the total number of program staff to 38. Other additions in 2019 include two public health nursing consultants and an office associate.
The Department continues its public health nursing recruitment efforts, with a focus on Washington County.