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FEMA approves request for federal COVID-19 surge response teams at Bangor hospital

Virus Outbreak Maine
Robert F. Bukaty
Capt. Joseph White leads a group of Maine National Guardsmen into Central Maine Medical Center, Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, in Lewiston, Maine. Gov. Janet Mills has deployed additional National Guard to several Maine hospital to assist with care of COVID patients.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has approved the Mills' Administration's request to send two COVID-19 Surge Response Teams to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center.

40 military medical personnel will arrive at the Bangor hospital on Feb.18 and stay through mid-March. The doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists will help staff care for COVID-19 patients and others with serious medical issues.

"The virus is putting pressure on staffing and adding difficulty to the already challenging process of placing patients who are in need of behavioral health, skilled nursing, or other support after discharge," said Rand O'Leary, president of Northern Light EMMC, in a written statement.

O'Leary said even though overall hospitalizations in Maine may be declining, not all hospitals are experiencing a significant drop in COVID patients.

"We service about two-thirds of the state out of this hospital. We're not seeing that quite yet," O'Leary said.

O'Leary said EMMC is also dealing with a staffing shortage due to employees who have tested positive for COVID or who need to care for sick family members.

Federal COVID surge response teams have been deployed to other hospitals in the state, including Maine Medical Center Portland. Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston is receiving assistance from a federal team that is scheduled to stay through the beginning of March.