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Maine health officials do not expect widespread service interruptions in healthcare facilities

Published: Oct. 13, 2021 at 5:29 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - The head of the Maine CDC and DHHS commissioner say they do not expect to see widespread service interruptions in healthcare facilities across the state.

This as the COVID-19 vaccine mandate for health care workers will be enforced in just over two weeks.

Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew says between Sept. 1-30, they saw vaccination rates reach more than 90% in hospitals and surgical centers and over 85% in nursing homes.

Central Maine Medical Center has already put a halt to their trauma and pediatric admissions this week due to staffing shortages.

Lambrew says they are working closely with CMMC.

”We’re confident as the Maine Hospital Association as does Northern Light Health and Maine Health and many of our hospitals, I think you all have heard that Millinocket Regional Hospital for example, hit 100% back in September, and they are in a rural area of the state where there is relatively low vaccination rates, so it is possible. We should just recognize it is possible to fully vaccinate healthcare workers against a communicable disease and not have critical staff shortage issues,” said Lambrew said.

“This was a condition of employment, not a mandate. And so you’re right, there are folks that will elect to leave health care all together. I wish they wouldn’t because Maine people need them right now. And so I wish those folks would decide to get vaccinated and come back into the health care fold, but I also understand that people make decisions and they’ve got to do what’s best for them,” said Dr. Nirav Shah, Maine CDC director.

Shah says despite staffing shortages, if you need medical treatment, do not shy away from going to the hospital.

Lambrew says once enforcement of the mandate goes into effect on Oct. 29, they will look into complaint driven investigations and hold audits to ensure health care facilities are in compliance.

Shah says they will not wait for a possible federal mandate because waiting could cost lives.

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