Mills Administration Announces Deployment of National Guard Members to 16 Health Care Facilities Across Maine

January 14, 2022

Following engagement with Maine’s hospitals, Governor Janet Mills announced today that the 169 members of the Maine National Guard she activated earlier this week will deploy to 16 health care facilities across the state beginning January 20, 2022.

Governor Mills activated the additional Guard members in response torecord-high COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maine, the majority of which are among people who are not vaccinated. As of today, there are a near record high 424 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine, including 109 in critical care and 57 on ventilators, leaving only 46 adult intensive care unit (ICU) beds available in Maine.

“I am grateful to the Maine National Guard and to health care workers across the state who are working day and night to save the lives of Maine people,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Maine people must now also do their part to stem this crisis: please step up and get vaccinated today, regardless of whether it’s your first shot or your third. Doing so may save your life or it may save a child too young to be vaccinated, and it will certainly spare our health care workers and National Guard members.”

“Governor Mills’ activation of the Maine National Guard has been crucial in helping to maintain critical care capacity in Maine’s hospitals since mid-December,” said Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew. “As Maine continues to respond to the Omicron surge, these additional deployments will help hospitals care for people with COVID-19 and other illnesses by supporting our strained health care workers, who continue to urge Maine people to get vaccinated. We remain grateful to our National Guard neighbors for their service.”

“I continue to be extremely proud of the men and women of the Maine National Guard, their families, and their employers,” said Major General Douglas Farnham. “Their assistance is making a real difference during this difficult period, and we will continue to do all we can in the fight COVID-19.”

Beginning January 20, 2022, and running through February 25, 2022,Guard members will deploy to serve in non-clinical support roles at the following locations:

Health Care Facility Location Number of National Guard to Deploy
Bolster Heights Residential Care Auburn 2
Central Maine Medical Center Lewiston 5
Eastern Maine Medical Center Bangor 16
Franklin Memorial Hospital Farmington 5
LincolnHealth - Miles Campus & Hospital Damariscotta 1
Maine Medical Center Portland 30
Mid Coast Hospital Brunswick 19
Pen Bay Medical Center Rockport 17
Rumford Community Home Rumford 3
Southern Maine Health Care Biddeford 12
Spring Harbor Hospital Westbrook 8
St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center Lewiston 12
Stephens Memorial Hospital Norway 7
Waldo County General Hospital Belfast 11
York Hospital – Main Campus York 14
York Walk-In Care York 7
Total   169

The Guard members will help hospitals maintain capacity by freeing up clinical staff to focus on patient care. Their assistance will also open additional beds at nursing facilities, in swing bed units, and at other “decompression sites” that accept patients discharged from hospitals. This, in turn, 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.

These deployments were developed in collaboration with Maine hospitals with the goal of complementing existing staff and available resources to open additional beds and address need. The deployments are scheduled through February 25, 2022, subject to need.

These additional Guard members will join the more than 202 Guard members already on orders supporting COVID-19 response efforts, including supporting hospital decompression; staffing testing centers and vaccine clinics; helping inventory and deliver personal protective equipment (PPE), testing supplies, and vaccines; and supporting case investigation and laboratory testing.

As announced earlier this week, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has also approved Governor Mills’ request for Federal COVID-19 Surge Response Teams for MaineHealth in Portland and Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC) in Lewiston. These two teams, consisting of a total of 7 Federally-contracted nurses and pharmacists, began arriving earlier this week and are scheduled to stay through January 27, 2022. Three clinicians are serving at MaineHealth while four are serving atCMMC, where they will administer COVID-19 vaccines, freeing up Maine clinicians to provide patient care.

The new Federal teams also complement the eight Federally supported ambulances and crews that are providing transportation of inpatients to available beds among facilities in Maine. Since their arrival, the ambulances and crews have transported 178 patients, significantly shortening the time that patients wait for such transfers and opening beds that helps free up critical care capacity. They will continue service in Maine through January 26, 2022.

The Mills Administration has expanded other support for hospitals to manage the increase of COVID-19 patients, including providing additional flexibility for acute-care hospitals to use Critical Access Hospitals to alleviate capacity constraints and enlisting the Maine Responds Emergency Health Volunteer System that organizes health care, public health, and emergency response volunteers to respond to emergency situations. Waivers of state nursing facility staff ratios during the emergency have opened up 147 beds since November 2021.

These steps come in addition to the Governor providing $60 million in Medicaid temporary rate increases in 2020, $40 million in one-time payments to hospitals, nursing homes, and behavioral health providers in the summer of 2021, and $146 million from the biennial budget last month in one-time COVID-19 supplemental payments to hospitals and nursing facilities to support their staff and patient care.

The Maine National Guard is a part time military force of nearly 3,000 men and women who serve their communities, state, and nation.