Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston will be receiving a federal COVID-19 response team from FEMA, Gov. Janet Mills announced Thursday. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal file

LEWISTON — The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending another team of medical personnel to Central Maine Medical Center next week, Gov. Janet Mills’ office announced Thursday.

A team of up to 20 physicians, nurses and respiratory therapists from the U.S. Department of Defense will work at the Lewiston hospital starting Tuesday through March 2, where they will help provide care for COVID-19 patients and others in critical care.

This is the second time FEMA has approved Mills’ request for a federal COVID-19 surge response team for CMMC. On Thursday, a group of four federally contracted clinicians departed CMMC, where they had been assisting with administering COVID vaccines since Jan. 10.

FEMA was unable to approve Mills’ first request on behalf of CMMC made in early December due to a lack of resources, Maine Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson Jackie Farwell confirmed earlier this month. Another request on behalf of Maine Medical Center in Portland that was submitted at the same time was approved a day later.

The Mills administration also announced Thursday that FEMA approved the governor’s request for a 30-day extension to the eight federal ambulance teams working throughout the state.

The teams, which arrived in December and had been scheduled to leave Thursday, have been stationed at Maine hospitals, including CMMC and Franklin Memorial Hospital in Farmington, to assist with nonemergency patient transfers.


FEMA is sending a ninth ambulance team to Cary Medical Center in Caribou.

According to Farwell, the Mills administration made the request for the military medical personnel team for CMMC on Jan. 14, and for the ambulance teams’ extension on Jan. 19. She said the state has no other pending requests at the moment.

“The influx of skilled providers is great news for our patients and for our hardworking team members,” Central Maine Healthcare President and CEO Steve Littleson said in a prepared statement. Central Maine Healthcare is CMMC’s parent company.

As of Thursday, providers at CMMC were caring for an average of about 28 patients per day during the week prior.

“We are thrilled to have them on our team providing patient care in our ongoing battle against COVID-19,” Littleson said.

Statewide, daily COVID hospitalizations have decreased slightly over the past few days. However, the seven-day moving average as of Thursday stood at about 417 patients per day, which was higher than where it stood one week ago thanks to a bump in hospitalizations at the start of the week.

In addition to the federal teams, members of the Maine National Guard were deployed to health care facilities throughout the state last week, joining more than 200 members that have been on COVID response orders since November.

There are more than 50 Guard members deployed at CMMC, Franklin Memorial, St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Stephens Memorial Hospital in Norway, Rumford Community Home and Bolster Heights Residential Care in Auburn.

The deployment of a separate group of roughly 80 members on COVID response orders at CMMC, Franklin Memorial, Stephens Memorial, Rumford Hospital and Bridgton Hospital ended Wednesday.

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