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Additional Maine National Guard members arrive at hospitals amid record COVID-19 patients

Patty Wight
Maine Public
National Guard members are briefed before reporting for duty at Central Maine Medical Center on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022.

More Maine National Guard members are being deployed to hospitals around the state to help address the demands of record numbers of COVID-19 patients.

Seventeen members arrived Thursday morning at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. Director of care management Jennifer Bodger says they'll assist in nonclinical roles in the emergency department and help open up eight additional beds. That's on top of eight beds that have been opened since the first deployment of National Guard members in mid-December.

"I know eight, off the cuff, doesn't sound like a lot, but it's a ton in this world right now," she says.

Capt. Joseph White says the roles may be nonclinical, but they're still meaningful.

"Ninety nine percent of our members are not in the medical field. So when they first get here, it's kind of a little overwhelming in the beginning, but once they get their feet wet, they're able to jump right in and help the hospital staff. It's very rewarding to them," he says.

Five members will also assist at two long-term care facilities run by Central Maine Healthcare. A total of 169 guard members are scheduled to help at hospitals through February. They join more than 200 members who are already assisting with the pandemic at Maine hospitals and vaccine clinics as well as with case investigations and testing.