Public Health Nursing Updates
Update: November 15, 2019
The Maine Public Health Nursing Program continues to add staff who provide essential services in Maine communities. In October and early November, new hires in Augusta, Portland, Rockland, and Bangor increased the statewide number of Public Health Nurses to 31 and total program staff to 40.
To date in 2019, the Public Health Nursing Program has hired or promoted 18 people to fill nursing and nursing consultant vacancies. The Department of Health and Human Services continues recruiting to bolster the program. This includes having Public Health Nurses serve as mentors this fall for student nurses from the University of Maine at Augusta, Northern Maine Community College and St. Joseph's College in five of the state's eight districts. The program, in which nursing students shadow Public Health Nurses as they do their work, will continue when a new college semester begins in early 2020.
Public Health Nurses' work includes responding to requests for assistance from communities. At the onset of flu season in late September, the program offered care and support services at vaccination clinics. Public Health Nurses spent four days working with Regional School Unit 73 staff to give flu shots to 346 students and staff. This collaborative effort between Public Health Nurses and school nurses served students from kindergarten through 12th grade in the southern Franklin County district. Separately, Public Health Nurses helped vaccinate approximately 600 people, including students and staff, over five days of flu clinics for School Administrative District 1 in Presque Isle.
Public Health Nurses also continue their work to support the Department's Safe Sleep initiative. As part of the Cribs for Kids program, Public Health Nurses are distributing portable cribs, sleep sacks and crib sheets to residents who need a safe sleep environment for their children. Public Health Nurses also provide safe sleep education to parents of children younger than 1 year old, as well as to grandparents and other caregivers.
The ABCs of Safe Sleep should be practiced every time a baby sleeps:
- A is for Alone | Share the room, not the bed.
- B is for Back | On their back for night and naps.
- C is for Crib | In a Clean, Clear, Crib.
- D is for Drug-Free | Be aware, not impaired. Drinking and drug use can impair the ability to care for a baby, making bed-sharing and other unsafe sleep practices even more dangerous.
Further statewide training on Safe Sleep occurred in early November.
Lastly, a two-day Public Health Nursing Conference in early October offered emergency response training to 34 Public Health Nursing Program staff and invited volunteers.