Maine hospitals received $25 million in state funding Thursday to help them recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, even as the number of infected patients is again on the rise.

The Maine Department of Health and Human Services said it issued the latest round of funds set aside in the supplemental state budget to help hospitals recover from pandemic-related costs and deal with ongoing challenges with workforce recruitment and retention. Maine hospitals strained to care for hundreds of patients last winter, in some cases deferring other medical services when COVID patients overwhelmed physical capacity and staffing resources.

Hospitals received payments from the $25 million proportional to the amount of MaineCare revenue they brought in before the pandemic. With this week’s payment, the department has issued more than $75 million in supplemental payments to Maine hospitals during the pandemic. The money was approved by the governor and Legislature in April. The federal government also has directly provided funding to Maine hospitals, for a total of over $600 million in public support during the pandemic, DHHS said. 

The latest round of funding comes as hospitals are once again admitting more patients with severe symptoms from COVID-19, as well as a rising number of patients who are hospitalized for other reasons but test positive for COVID, which means they have to be isolated and cared for using extra precautions.

Maine hospitals reported a total of 210 patients with COVID on Thursday, including 41 people in critical care and two on ventilators. That is almost twice as many hospitalizations as in late June, when there were 116 patients overall and 18 in critical care units. And many health experts are warning of potential increases in infections and hospitalizations this winter as several new variants of the virus circulate in the U.S. and around the world.

“Hospitals are under unprecedented financial pressures related to inflation, labor shortages and the ongoing COVID pandemic,” Steve Michaud, president of the Maine Hospital Association, said in a statement. “This influx of money couldn’t come at a more perfect time and will help us to continue to care for both our patients and caregivers alike.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.