Category: Blog (page 1 of 1)

How Maine Residents Can Help Hospital Workers

Already, Maine hospital workers and health care professionals are working around the clock caring for patients diagnosed and suspected to have COVID-19. Amidst the crisis, non-health care workers may be curious to learn about how they can help hospital workers. It might be tempting to try supporting these workers with direct food donations and other care packages, but there are better, more effective ways to help. If you’re feeling helpless and don’t know how to contribute to Maine’s fight againt COVID-19, here are a few ideas. 

Skip the Food Donations – At Least to Hospital Workers 

Other parts of the country are experiencing shortages of shelf-stable staples, like dry pastas, canned goods, and rice. While this type of shortage has yet to hit Maine, we’re currently bracing for impact. You may think that hospitals could be a good recipient for these goods, but that’s not always the case. Most hospitals are not set up or prepared to accept on-site donations. In many cases, your donation will likely not be accepted. If you have extra food, consider donating it to those in need through soup kitchens and pantries.  

Ask Directly 

If you want to contribute directly to a hospital in any way, reach out to their communications staff. A lot of these workers are already working overtime and are in need of supplies, from protective gear to on-shift snacks. Ask health care professionals and their hospitals directly to understand what their needs are. To that end, sending a kind word to hospitals through social media is always appreciated.  

Don’t Hoard Supplies 

Hospitals around the country are already experiencing a critical shortage of personal protective gear supplies, including masks, shields, and gowns, as well as hand sanitizer. If you panicked and purchased a set of N95 masks, you likely don’t need them – not unless you yourself work in a health care setting. If you have medical equipment on-hand, consider donating it to hospitals. Reach out to hospital staff to understand how to get supplies to those who need them. 

Do Your Part to Flatten the Curve 

If you’re feeling helpless amidst this global pandemic, one of the best things you can do is to flatten the curve of the virus’s spread. Whether you think you’re sick or are not experiencing symptoms, staying at home is the best way to help hospital workers. By limiting personal contact with other people, you reduce your personal risk of contracting the virus, spreading the virus, and becoming critically ill. By flattening the curve, you can contribute to keeping Maine’s hospitals as clear as possible.  

The Latest on Maine and the Novel Coronavirus

As of Monday, March 23, the State of Maine had 107 residents diagnosed with the novel coronavirus. Of those 107 diagnoses, 12 have been hospitalized. This is an increase by eight, up from the five hospitalized in the second week of march. The virus has been detected in nine counties, but the Maine CDC Director, Nirav Shah, asked residents to live as though COVID-19 was already in their communities. The severe lack of available tests has limited local officials’ ability to fully understand the virus’s penetration through the state.  

What the Coronavirus Means for Maine Healthcare Workers 

Health care workers around the country are bracing for impact as hospitals flood with COVID-19 patients requiring medical attention. No state will feel this overburden as much as Maine, which already has a severe lack of health care professionals. While the virus may not spread through Maine as quickly and easily as in more densely populated urban areas, we anticipate that our state’s health care workers will become quickly overburdened by COVID-19 patients.  

How You Can Help 

Our readers who are not currently working in the health care field can take steps to alleviate some of the burden currently placed on Maine workers. Social distancing, or maintaining at least a 6-foot distance between yourself and those around you, is an important method for stopping virus transmission. And, while Maine has not yet issued a shelter-in-place order, residents should remain at home as much as possible, only leaving for essential tasks, like getting groceries or going to essential jobs.  

Additionally, several states have asked recently retired doctors and nurses to return to work temporarily. The additional help from recently retired folks could significantly help Mainers, who are already suffering from a critical lack of health care workers. If you’re a recently retired doctor, nurse, or other type of health care worker, contact your former place of work for more information about how to help current staff.  

Finally, any Mainers with research experience should look into the Greater Boston Consortium on Pathogen Readiness, or GBCPR. This is a multi-institutional initiative to invest in and develop the infrastructure millions will need to address the threat posed by the novel coronavirus. Scientists, especially those with experience running PCR gels, can volunteer their skills to those requiring the support. If an institution near you requests help, you may be called to lend your time and experience in developing potential treatments and/or running tests.  

Beal College Mitigates Healthcare Crisis with New Nursing Program

It is very clear the Maine is in need of registered nurses (RNs). The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics cites that the need for skilled nurses will grow exponentially in the next several years. Already, some Maine healthcare organizations have tried attracting nurses through unconventional means, such as bringing in nurses from other countries or utilizing military veterans’ experience in lieu of regular nursing coursework. We are facing a crisis that only a new generation of healthcare workers can solve.

Beal College, located in Bangor, ME, recently stepped up their efforts to solve our community’s healthcare dilemma. They saw a need and put in the work: they opened a new nursing program.

Details About the Nursing Program

Beal College’s 20-month nursing program will prepare students to become skilled and compassionate Registered Nurses. These students will graduate as entry-level Associate’s Degree practitioners able to provide holistic nursing care to a range of patients and their families. These RNs will be trained in a variety of acute care, long-term care, and community health general knowledge.

According to Beal College’s website, their Nursing Associate’s Degree program is designed to foster the clinical reasoning, problem-solving, compassionate understanding, and lifelong-learning skills nurses need to thrive in today’s medical climate. Students will enroll in both nursing-specific and general education courses to provide a solid foundation of skills to use during the course of their careers. Courses include:

  • Introduction to Foundational Nursing Concepts
  • Pharmacology
  • Introduction to Maternal-Child Nursing Concepts
  • Nursing Concepts Across the Life Span
  • Introduction to Mental Health Nursing Concepts
  • AND Transition to Nursing PRactice
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Microbiology

If you are interested in seeing if Beal’s nursing program is a good personal fit, consider booking a tour at their Bangor campus.

Setting a Standard

While many Maine colleges and universities offer healthcare professional degrees, there are still many that do not. Beal College is setting an important standard in the push for more healthcare professionals in the Pine Tree State. Nurses who complete training from Beal College’s program can work in a range of specializations, including critical care, emergency, gerontology, hospice, pediatrics, neonatology, psychiatry, community health, and more, providing critical support to any range of Maine healthcare providers. We can only hope that additional higher education institutions follow suit.

Additional Maine Health Resource Organizations

There are a lot of strategies out there for addressing our state’s healthcare crisis. We can provide incentives for healthcare professionals to live here. We can fund new nursing programs. But the first step toward helping Maine meet its health workforce needs is to promote the organizations that already exist. These development nonprofits and parts of the government are already doing the work. If you can, consider supporting any of these organizations, either through financial donations or vounteer work.

Maine Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration – Established in the 1960’s, this professional organization is devoted to the continuing development of healthcare human resource managers and workers. They participate in statewide initiatives that plan and address healthcare workforce shortage and collaborate with others organizations to advocate on both state and national levels. The MSHHRA also provides joint educational programming with other professional organizations.

Maine Public Health Association – This organization is devoted to healthcare professional development. Through periodic webinars, conferences, and online professional and personal resources, the MPHA supports Maine’s healthcare workers through advocacy and continuing education. This is also a great resource for those who want to begin a career in healthcare but don’t know which Maine colleges and universities provide public health degrees.

Maine Behavioral Health Workforce Development Collaborative – The MBHWDC connects Maine’s mental healthcare professionals with future career opportunities. Their goal is to help mental health professional enhance their skills and knowledge to better serve the residents and people of Maine. They offer educational programs, both in-person and online, and partnerships with other organizations.

Maine’s Department of Labor Workforce Development Initiative – The state’s Department of Labor is helping improve opportunities for workers through workforce development. This is an excellent place to start if you are considering a career in healthcare. The DoL website provides resources for on-the-job training, policy initiatives, and information about accessing higher education opportunities.

MaineHealth – A non-profit organization, MaineHealth is recognized as one of the nation’s top integrated healthcare delivery networks. They maintain a Center for Workforce Development, which works to strength the state’s healthcare community while creating opportunities for employment and growth. The initiative provides educational opportunities, forges career paths for young people, and promotes employment opportunities within the Maine communities they serve.

Maine Hospital Association – The MHA provides healthcare leadership through advocacy, information, and education to support its members. Importantly, they understand the current qualified staff shortage, pointing out that the shortages are particularly acute in clinical staff. The organization is working to identify and address the nature and severity of these shortages. Their plan is to create a concrete, targeted response to the healthcare crisis through workforce initiatives.

Welcome to the New Maine Health Workforce Forum

The Maine Health Workforce Forum is an effort to continue the dialogue initiated by the Maine legislature. Back in 2005, the state established this organization to evaluate and make policy recommendations due to the projected labor shortage of qualified health professionals. Flash forward to 2019 and this role has reverted back to Maine’s Department of Labor Workforce Development. That doesn’t mean the need for dedicated efforts toward the state’s healthcare workforce has vanished. The projected shortage in the state’s health workforce has, indeed, come to fruition and doesn’t look any better five, ten, twenty years into the future.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the healthcare industry as a whole has found a way to get more productivity out of our health workforce through upgrades to recordkeeping, medical supply and technology, and other infrastructure—while reducing dependence on hospital facilities. These gains, though important, can’t continue forever. At some point, we really are going to have to find a way to get more people into the state’s health workforce or else we face serious deficits in our standard of care. Things that patients currently expect will become inaccessible. Serious, even deadly, consequences are inevitable.

We’ll lose lives. Our health will suffer. Doctors and nurses will be put in increasingly impossible situations. Some of this is likely inevitable, but it’s not an all-or-nothing proposition. It could be better, but it could be worse. The Maine Health Workforce Forum is back in a new form and ready to figure out what we can do to make things better.