Healthcare System Staffing Shortage Grows

Hi, this is Representative Ted Kryzak, of Acton, with this week’s Republican Radio Address. 

I am sure that by now you have all read and seen the stories of Maine hospitals reducing services, diverting patients, or rationing care, in the wake of the Governor’s mandate, that healthcare employees receive mandatory vaccinations or lose their jobs. This has created a larger staffing shortage for healthcare systems throughout Maine.

The alarm was sounded two weeks ago when Central Maine Health Care (CMMC) met with a bipartisan group of legislators to express their concern over having to force skilled employees out of their jobs, because of the Governor’s mandate, and the lack of a testing option for employees. 

CMMC said they will be forced to reduce services in units such as trauma, heart attack, and pediatrics.  Central Maine Health deserves praise for being willing to come forward and offer a solution that is afforded every other business: regular COVID-19 testing.  Unfortunately, the Governor will not consider this option.

Then, at the end of last week, Down East Community Hospital announced that they would not be accepting ambulance patients into its Emergency Room bay.  Writing:

“Due to staffing shortages created by the vaccine mandate, the inability to transfer psychiatric and long-term care patients, and the general delays in transferring patients that need a higher level of care to larger facilities, we are experiencing significant delays in the emergency departments at both Down East Community Hospital and Calais Community Hospital. All of these issues reduce the number of Emergency Room beds we have available…”

Then, we learned that a 42-bed facility in Saco with 35 patients will be closing for the same reason.

Still–nothing from the Governor. 

The Down East Community Hospital statement says they are unable to move patients into larger facilities and long-term facilities, echoing the concerns raised by Central Maine Healthcare that, not only do they have a reduced number of beds because of their staffing issues, the staffing issues at other facilities caused by the mandate are further reducing available beds because their patients have nowhere else to go.

Then, Thursday of this week, York Hospital announced they are suspending emergency services at their Wells facility.  Seacoastonline reported that the suspension occurs “amid a staffing shortage and an approaching end of the month deadline for Maine health care workers to get vaccinated for COVID-19.”

The hospital says that the staffing shortage is not a result of the mandate, and we should take their word, but the fact that in the midst of an existing staffing shortage the Governor continues to ignore calls of Maine’s healthcare providers for relief from a policy that is further reducing available healthcare staff is baffling.

This is heavy-handed government at its worst. This is taking a problem and making it worse by refusing to consider the needs of people on the front lines.

Throughout this pandemic, the Governor has refused to adjust policies to meet the realities we face day-to-day. 

Despite the cries for help from workers once hailed as heroes for serving us amidst a pandemic, the Governor remains committed to a policy that is creating a healthcare system crisis by reducing access to care from York to Washington County.

Mainers should not have to suffer because the Governor is unwilling to admit her policy needs to adjust to the real life realities brought to her attention from members of the healthcare community serving the public.

This is has been Rep. Ted Kryzak with the Weekly Republican Radio Address.

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