Hundreds of Maine health care workers leave jobs over vaccine mandate, but most stay


Because the mandate by Gov. Janet Mills that well being care employees have to be vaccinated towards COVID-19 takes full impact, a whole lot of employees at hospitals and different well being care suppliers are resigning or getting fired for refusing the shot. However most are selecting to get vaccinated somewhat than lose their jobs.

The mandate took impact Friday and now well being care programs try to switch employees in a labor market suffering from acute staffing shortages.

At main hospital programs reminiscent of MaineHealth and Northern Mild Well being, compliance charges had been at about 98 % or greater, whereas Central Maine Healthcare’s compliance charge was about 95 %.

MaineHealth, the dad or mum firm of Maine Medical Heart in Portland and 7 different hospitals within the state, is anticipated to lose about 350 to 400 employees, representing about 1.5 to 2 % of the well being system’s 23,000-employee workforce. MaineHealth employee absenteeism attributable to COVID-19 peaked at about 450 per day final winter, earlier than vaccinations had been broadly accessible.

Steven Littleson, the president and CEO of Central Maine Healthcare in Lewiston, mentioned in a press release that 156 employees, representing roughly 5 % of the system’s 3,000 affected employees, had been fired or resigned due to the mandate.

“It’ll take a very long time to switch 156 skilled workforce members,” Littleson mentioned in a press release. “Within the meantime, the staffing disaster has led us to quickly droop inpatient pediatric admissions and our Particular Care Nursery. We proceed to ship infants of 35 weeks or extra of gestational age somewhat than 32 weeks and up. We’re evaluating different companies on a shift-to-shift foundation, together with our skill to accommodate elective surgical procedure.”

Andrew Soucier, spokesman for Northern Mild Well being, the dad or mum firm of Japanese Maine Medical Heart in Bangor and Mercy Hospital in Portland, mentioned 195 well being care employees resigned, and the system had 98.11 % compliance earlier than the mandate kicked in.

“An extra 191 staff could have a time period to rethink vaccination earlier than their employment with Northern Mild Well being ends,” Soucier mentioned.

MaineGeneral Medical Heart in Augusta misplaced 191 staff, or about 4 % of its workforce, over the state’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate that requires well being care employees to be totally vaccinated by the tip of final week.

Pleasure McKenna, a MaineGeneral spokeswoman, mentioned quite a lot of logistical strikes by the hospital signifies that “we imagine we’ll stay in a position to preserve companies” regardless of the lack of staff to the mandate.


The well being care mandate shouldn’t be solely affecting hospitals, but additionally different well being care suppliers, reminiscent of nursing properties and group properties for adults with mental disabilities.

Todd Goodwin, CEO of John F. Murphy Properties in Lewiston, which operates group properties for adults with mental disabilities, mentioned a mixture of employees getting their pictures on the final minute and state flexibility in how the properties function allowed them to avert a disaster this week. Goodwin mentioned that final week, when 65 of 350 employees had been unvaccinated, he was on the point of inform households of 8-10 residents that they might lose placements in group properties.

However 16 employees unexpectedly bought their pictures final week, and the Maine Division of Well being and Human Providers permitted John F. Murphy Properties to permit some group properties to have employees sleep on the properties in a single day. Goodwin mentioned that helps stretch out employees to cowl extra hours at properties which can be staffed 24/7.

“We’re nonetheless working on a really skinny edge,” he mentioned. “However we’re more than happy we didn’t should serve discover on anyone. Now we have to get staffed again up.”

Angela Westhoff, president and CEO of the Maine Well being Care Affiliation, which represents nursing properties, mentioned that 5 nursing properties and one assisted-living facility have needed to shut for the reason that mandate was introduced in August, and she or he anticipates 5-10 % of the workforce will go away somewhat than adjust to the mandate.

Westhoff mentioned the mandate is kicking in throughout what’s already a troublesome atmosphere for nursing properties to search out employees.

“We’ve had a long-standing staffing disaster that’s been round since lengthy earlier than COVID hit,” Westhoff mentioned. “We’re competing with each different sector. We’re struggling to search out employees. Simply go to your native espresso store, and you will note indicators within the window saying ‘Closed, we’d like extra employees.’”

In the meantime, Maine is gearing up for federal regulators to present remaining approval this week for vaccines for kids 5-11. Pharmacies, physician’s places of work and college clinics are anticipated to launch quickly to get “pictures into arms” maybe as quickly as later this week.

“Maine’s preliminary allocation (this week) of COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds is anticipated to be 33,900 doses, which might be sufficient to offer first doses to roughly 42 % of Maine residents who would change into eligible if the U.S. CDC authorizes the Pfizer vaccine for that age group,” mentioned Robert Lengthy, Maine CDC spokesman. “Pharmacies and federal applications in Maine could obtain further doses. Subsequent allocations are anticipated to reach on a weekly foundation.”


Vaccinations for these 12 and older have elevated considerably in Maine in current weeks, Dr. Nirav Shah, director of the Maine CDC, mentioned in a tweet.

“Stat of the Day: 97 %. That’s how a lot COVID-19 vaccination charges have elevated in Maine over the previous two weeks,” Shah mentioned. “Maine is now administering about 7,600 pictures per day. About 25 % of these are boosters, whereas 75 % are main collection.”

Although vaccinations are growing, hospitalizations additionally stay excessive. On Monday, 212 individuals had been hospitalized for COVID-19, together with 76 in intensive care and 41 on ventilators.

Chris Bouchard of the Kennebec Journal contributed to this report.

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