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Amid COVID-19 Surge, MaineHealth Expands Testing To Reach At-Risk Communities

A large sign reads Maine Medical Center outside the hospital in Portland.
Ari Snider
Maine Public
MaineHealth, which operates Maine Medical Center, received federal funding to run a study on the impact of increased testing access among certain at-risk communities.

As the Delta variant continues to drive a surge in COVID-19 cases, one of Maine’s major health systems is trying to figure out how best to reach some of the state’s most vulnerable communities.

MaineHealth said it intends to make testing more available to immigrant, low-income, and unhoused Mainers - and determine if that increased access has an impact on attitudes toward getting tested.

As part of its study, funded by a $940,140 federal grant, the Maine Medical Center Research Institute will work with partner organizations including Greater Portland Health, a primary care practice that operates at 10 locations in the Portland area.

GPH chief operating officer Elizabeth Jackson said the funding will allow the addition of a community health worker to help expand testing capacity.

"This team member could really help make some more mobile testing available. So perhaps [going] to other locations where we may not have a GPH site already established," Jackson said.

The grant money will cover one year of clinical research. New testing sites are expected to open by the end of this year.