Members of the Maine National Guard arrive for orientation at an empty wing at Central Maine Medical Center in December in Lewiston. Robert F. Bukaty/Associated Press

The Maine National Guard will deploy 19 members to Mid Coast Hospital in Brunswick on Thursday to help support the facility amid the largest surge of COVID-19 cases to date.

Guard members will take on non-clinical support roles through Feb. 25. The deployment is part of a statewide initiative announced by Gov. Janet Mills last week designed to provide relief to 16 health care facilities across Maine.

According to a statement from Mid Coast Hospital, 15 of the Guard members will work in environmental services, helping to clean the facility, and four will be in food and nutrition, preparing meals for patients and staff.

Both departments have faced staffing shortages throughout the latest surge, according to the statement, requiring at times internal reassignments and temporary adjustments to operations.

Joe Grant, Mid Coast-Parkview Health’s chief operating officer and vice president of operations, said the hospital’s care teams are heartened by the news that Guard members will be coming, adding that staff have been working exceptionally hard over the past several months.

“This deployment will alleviate some of the most critical staffing challenges we have faced and will allow us to maintain adequate staffing even while care team members call out sick as the highly contagious omicron variant spreads in our region,” said Grant.

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As of Tuesday, Mid Coast-Parkview Health had 254 job openings system-wide, according to the organization’s marketing coordinator, Alex Seise.

Mid Coast-Parkview Health is the local division of MaineHealth, a 12-hospital statewide health care organization. Mid Coast-Parkview includes Mid Coast Hospital, Mid Coast Medical Group, Mid Coast Senior Health and CHANS Home Health & Hospice.

At Mid Coast Hospital, 12 patients were being treated for COVID-19 on Tuesday, four of whom were in the Intensive Care Unit. Of the total, two were on ventilators and eight had been vaccinated.

In early January, according to Seise, the hospital began postponing some non-emergent surgeries due to temporary staff reassignments. As of Tuesday, Mid Coast Hospital was at full capacity.

Statewide, a total of 169 Guard members will be deployed Thursday, adding to the more than 200 members already supporting COVID-19 response efforts in Maine, according to an announcement from the Mills administration.

“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,” said Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Jeanne Lambrew in a statement.

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Mid Coast Hospital will receive the second most Guard members behind Maine Medical Center in Portland, which will take in 30 members. Other hospitals receiving support include Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport, Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston.

The impacts of the latest COVID-19 surge continue to send ripple effects throughout the Midcoast community. Last week, Brunswick High School held classes remotely due to staffing challenges and an uptick in COVID-19 cases within the district. Bowdoin College also announced last week a remote start for the spring semester in anticipation of COVID-19 cases among students.

On Jan. 6, Brunswick officials approved a town-wide mask mandate for all indoor public spaces. Freeport and Bath were expected to vote on similar measures this week, as well.

The Portland Press Herald reported on Tuesday that the number of COVID-19 patients statewide has declined slightly, with 400 total hospitalizations. Since the beginning of the pandemic, 3,700 people have been hospitalized in Maine with COVID-19.

According to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 75.8% of eligible Maine residents had received a final dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as of Tuesday. In Brunswick, the Maine CDC estimates that 87% of eligible residents are vaccinated.

As of Tuesday, a total of 161,395 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Maine, resulting in 1,658 deaths. In Cumberland County, 32,017 cases had been reported and 648 deaths.

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