Governor Mills Announces Federal COVID-19 Ambulance Teams to Eight Maine Hospitals

Hospitals to accommodate ambulances and emergency medical teams that will match patients with open beds in facilities in Maine

Governor Janet Mills announced today that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has approved Maine’s request for federal ambulance teams on behalf of eight hospitals in Maine. Federal teams will help Maine’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) teams transport elective patients between facilities to match patients with open beds and ensure they are treated at the responding facility best for their health care needs.

Ambulance teams are one of a list of initiatives President Biden announced today to help states deal with the COVID-19 Omicron variant. The Mills administration is awaiting more details from the federal government on the ambulance teams, including when they are expected to arrive in Maine, as well as details of other initiatives announced by the president today to support hospitals and increase l ‘access to COVID-19 tests and vaccines.

As the Delta variant continues to generate the current sustained wave of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Maine and the rest of New England, the more transmissible Omicron variant is now the dominant variant of new infections with United States, according to the US CDC.

The following hospitals will host the federal teams, which can be deployed to additional facilities statewide as needed:

  • Maine Medical Center, Portland
  • Southern Maine Health Care, Biddeford
  • Franklin Memorial Hospital, Farmington
  • Mid Coast Hospital, Brunswick
  • Maine Central Medical Center, Lewiston
  • Maine Medical Center, Augusta
  • Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, Bangor
  • Saint-Joseph Hospital, Bangor

Teams that are not actively transporting patients between facilities at a given time can further help hospital emergency departments manage COVID-19 patients.

“Like our compatriots in New England, hospitals in Maine are being pushed to the brink during this sustained wave of COVID-19, driven primarily by people who remain unvaccinated.” Governor Janet Mills said. “I am grateful for this additional federal support and hope that, along with the actions of my administration, it will help ease the pressure on our health care system. People in Maine can do their part by getting vaccinated, whether it’s their first or third shot. That’s what you should do. This is the only way to get through this wave without losing more lives.

“These federal ambulance teams will help us transport patients to ensure they receive the care that best meets their needs and will increase our overall hospital capacity.” said Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew and Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Nirav D. Shah said.. “We look forward to receiving more details from the federal government on expanding access to COVID-19 testing and vaccination, which are critical to stem this tide. “

“Our EMS teams continue to work tirelessly to transport patients throughout the healthcare system to ensure they receive the highest quality care, at the most appropriate facility in our state. These federal resources will help relieve the increasing pressure on our first responders by compensating for some movement of patients between facilities when they exceed our current capacity. This is particularly important as we continue to see an increase in the number of COVID-19 hospital patients ”, said J. Sam Hurley, director of emergency medical services for Maine. “We are grateful for these resources as we continue to care for all Mainers.”

“The transport of patients is an essential element in the decompression of our overly stressed hospitals”, said Steven Michaud, president of the Maine Hospital Association. “A rare open bed is of no use if we can’t get the patient there in time. Increasing the capacity of ambulances is a big part of the solution to this crisis. We are grateful for the Governor’s request to FEMA and for the positive response from the Federal Government. “

The majority of people hospitalized in Maine are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19. To date, there is a record 387 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maine, including 125 in intensive care and 62 on ventilators. There are currently 54 intensive care unit (ICU) beds available in Maine.

The Mills administration further asked federal clinical monoclonal antibody teams to support hospitals in Maine. This request is pending. If approved, these teams would complement the National Guard’s non-clinical support, which Governor Mills activated on December 8, 2021.

Last week, 23 National Guard members deployed to service six healthcare sites across Maine to help clinical staff administer monoclonal antibodies. The administration of monoclonal antibodies helps prevent individuals from becoming seriously ill from COVID-19 and keeps them away from intensive care, thus preserving the capacity of the intensive care unit (ICU).

On December 16, 2021, 17 members of the National Guard deployed to Saint Joseph’s Manor in Portland and 15 members of the National Guard deployed to CMMC to increase the capacity of these “decompression sites” and allow hospitals to unload more individuals in safely, thus relieving a bottleneck that will then allow hospitals to provide hospital care to more people with COVID-19 and to ensure the delivery of health care for other serious health conditions. This deployment will open approximately 26 additional beds at the Manoir Saint-Joseph and approximately 16 “swing” beds at the CMMC.

Nine other members of the Guard will be deployed to Rumford Hospital in Rumford and Bridgton Hospital in Bridgton on December 27, 2021 to support monoclonal antibody treatments. Maine’s request for additional doses of monoclonal antibodies was also approved on December 21.

National Guard deployments have been developed in conjunction with Maine Hospital Systems with the goal of supplementing existing personnel and available resources to immediately open additional beds and meet needs. The full set of actions, which also includes exemptions from nursing facilities to open beds for hospital discharges, the distribution of federally supplied ventilators to hospitals, and a Federal Emergency Response Team. COVID-19 surge at Maine Medical Center in Portland, is expected to make about 152 beds available. This estimate includes both COVID and non-COVID beds and is subject to change based on changing circumstances and needs across the healthcare system. Maine National Guard deployments are scheduled until Jan. 26, 2022, as needed.

The Mills administration also expanded support for hospitals to manage the surge in COVID-19 patient numbers, including providing additional flexibility for acute care hospitals to use critical access hospitals to ease the stress of capacity and using the Maine Responds Emergency Health Volunteer System that organizes health care. , public health and emergency response volunteers to respond to emergencies. These measures are in addition to the fact that the governor provided $ 60 million in temporary Medicaid rate increases in 2020, $ 40 million in one-time payments to hospitals, nursing homes and behavioral health care providers in the United States. summer 2021, and $ 146 million from the last biennial budget. months in one-time additional COVID-19 payments to hospitals and healthcare facilities to support their staff and patient care.

The Mills administration is also working to expand the availability of PCR and rapid COVID-19 tests alongside the federal government. Currently, the volume of PCR tests in Maine is at a high level and the Department of Health and Human Services and the Maine CDC are working closely with the manufacturers of the test kits to increase the supply in Maine. Maine currently ranks 12e the best in the country in terms of test volume over the past 30 days.

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