DavesPaper.com | October 14, 2021
DP Editor Note:
Scroll down to read Governor Janet Mills October 12, 2021 response.
Scroll down to bottom to read Senator Jeffrey Timberlake and Representative Kathleen Dillingham October 12, 2021 letter written to President Troy Jackson and Speaker Ryan Fecteau and cc to Governor Janet Mills.
| October 14, 2021 |
Janet T. Mills
Governor State of Maine
1 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04330
I am writing with disappointment in response to your statement referencing the letter that Senator Timberlake and I sent to our presiding officers, on which you were copied out of courtesy.
Your assertion that Republicans have done little to advance a response around COVID-19 does little to encourage any collaboration and, unfortunately, it holds true to what many, political parties aside, have experienced in trying to work with or obtain information from your administration.
We have certainly questioned many decisions made by you, and members of your administration, and often never receive responses. As I previously wrote, I am still waiting for a written response regarding your implementation of the vaccine mandate where it pertains to first responders. Specifically, surrounding volunteers and those that share the same work building with those who are licensed paramedics. Perhaps, before implementing this mandate, the administration should have waited for clear guidance from the federal government once they were done formulating the rules around this requirement.
Our office has asked numerous times to be included in discussions around the administration’s decision-making process, to have the metrics shared that are being used to determine our state’s response to the pandemic, and now the ongoing response to address the virus. Our office has been denied every single time. You even went so far to deny providing information around what groups are part of these discussions because you stated that we, the people elected to represent citizens of Maine in our government, would make it too political.
To imply that Republicans are trying to weaken the state’s COVID-19 response by bringing forth a concern from one of our healthcare providers is what I deem to be repugnant. It is a classic example of the government knowing best. This mentality continues to add to distrust of government and feeds division.
You state if we, as Republicans, don’t want to listen to you, then we should listen to the other healthcare facilities that align with your beliefs. Perhaps you have checked the voter registration records of the officials and employees that work for Central Maine Health, but I have not. This is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue. You and un-elected officials within your administration, through your dismissive response and demeanor, continue to try to make this trying time about political parties rather than listen to any opinion outside your own echo chamber.
Governor, have you taken the time to listen to the officials of this healthcare system? Have you personally met with them to hear their concerns as I and a bipartisan group of Legislators did? Rather than you, the CDC director, and members of your administration, continually vilifying these essential workers and members of our society, perhaps you should take the time to meet with these healthcare professionals. If you are concerned about their vaccination status, you could participate remotely. Listen to them; hear their concerns and or their fears.
These very same people who you characterized as not caring about the health and welfare of their patients and coworkers are the very same people who showed up to work every single day at the height of the pandemic and continue to do so.
They routinely worked long hours, sometimes without proper PPE. They spent time away from their families to try and prevent transmission. We called them heroes. Now you treat them with derision and as some have personally told me, they now feel like they are treated as lesser citizens. These are citizens that you serve, Governor. You serve those who have chosen to get this vaccination as well as those who have not. It is important to listen to the opinions and voices of all those who you serve, not only those who agree with you. Anything less is an abdication of your leadership.
Although your statement tries mightily to divert attention from the real issue here, I will reiterate it once again—we have a healthcare organization that is already facing a staffing shortage and is concerned that the impending mandate will only exacerbate this problem. It has led them to make tough decisions about the services they can provide to ensure the safety of their employees as well as those they provide services to. They have asked that the mandate be amended to allow for testing options as well as funds to help them seek alternatives to address the shortage.
As another diversionary tactic, you claim that Republicans have failed to address the workforce shortage that Maine is currently facing. I am unsure if you are speaking directly of the healthcare shortage or overall, but in either case, your sound bite statement is lacking in factual evidence. Under the previous administration, the hospitals were finally paid the monies owed to them from previous administrations. Republicans in the legislature have continually sponsored and supported STEM education, the trades, and programs to encourage students who graduate in Maine, to stay and work in Maine. This is only a small example among many pieces of legislation intended to support our businesses and to attract workers to our state. Also, under your administration, I believe the data shows unemployment has grown even though our employers, from big to small, are facing staffing shortages, and there are help wanted signs posted from north to south and east to west in our state.
Again, rather than continually trying to make this political, let us focus on policy and communication. Let us have an open exchange of ideas, no matter where they come from. Let us hear from individuals who are directly impacted by the decisions we make in Augusta without assigning blame to them and personally attacking their beliefs. After all, these are the people we represent and serve. Neither you nor I would hold office in Augusta without them.
I am available to meet personally if you would like to discuss this crisis further.
Representative Kathleen R. J. Dillingham
House Republican Leader
Governor Mills Responds to Republican Leaders’ Demand to Weaken COVID-19 Public Health Measures
October 12, 2021
Governor Janet Mills issued the following statement in response to Republicans in the State Legislature pushing to weaken the state’s requirement that health care workers be vaccinated against COVID-19, a position that is out of line with forthcoming Federal policy and not supported by the Maine Hospital Association, the Maine Health Care Association, and the majority of the state’s health systems:
“Republicans in Maine have done little to advance the state’s response to COVID-19. Throughout this pandemic, they have opposed nearly every public health measure proven to limit the spread of this dangerous and deadly virus. Now – as Maine people continue to get sick and die – Republicans want to weaken a requirement that health care workers protect people in their care by getting vaccinated against COVID-19, the same way they have to get vaccinated against other infectious diseases.
“Health care workers must take every precaution to protect themselves and those they serve. Regular testing is not nearly as effective at protecting peoples’ health as vaccination, which is why it is not a part of our policy and it is not a part of the forthcoming Federal policy requiring all health care workers to be vaccinated. It is also not supported by the Maine Hospital Association, MaineHealth, Northern Light Health, and MaineGeneral Health. If Republicans don’t want to listen to me, then they should listen to them.
“To say that Maine people will die as a result of expanded vaccination is repugnant, dishonest, and an insult to every Maine person who has lost their life to COVID-19, especially those who contracted the virus from a health care worker who was supposed to protect them but chose not to get vaccinated. It is, in fact, this policy, that will keep both health care workers and their patients alive.
“Now make no mistake: we will do everything within our power – and everything to protect public health – to ensure access to health services for Maine people if Central Maine Medical Center (CMMC) employees refuse to be vaccinated and leave their jobs. We will do everything within our power to address the serious workforce shortage that our state is confronting – a problem that Republicans failed to address over the last decade. In the meantime, I have directed the Department of Health and Human Services to continue working with CMMC, as well as surrounding hospitals, to support critical health services for residents of Central Maine. This is what we have done since taking office to address the hospital’s longstanding workforce and compliance-related issues.
“Getting vaccinated – which is the collective responsibility of Maine people and something that more than one million of us have done already – is the best and most effective way out of this pandemic. Republicans should stop playing politics with a pandemic, and, instead, use their voice to strengthen, not weaken, public health measures. Because if they actually want to protect the health and welfare of Maine people, then they would stand up and use their power as elected officials to tell people the truth —that the vaccine is safe, it is free, and that everyone – regardless of politics – should get vaccinated immediately. Doing anything else is an absolute abdication of leadership.”Source: https://www.maine.gov/governor/mills/news/governor-mills-responds-republican-leaders-demand-weaken-covid-19-public-health-measures-2021
|Legislature Urged to Reconvene With Looming Healthcare Crisis |
Hospitals forced to ration care – Legislature must act before it is too late
LETTER TO PRESIDING OFFICERS
October 12, 2021
President Troy Jackson
3 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333
Speaker Ryan Fecteau
2 State House Station
August, ME 04333
Dear President Jackson and Speaker Fecteau,
We recently attended a meeting with members of the leadership team at Central Maine Healthcare and members of the Androscoggin Delegation, at which it was presented to us that unless there is a testing exemption to Governor Mills’ vaccine mandate their healthcare system will be forced to ration care due to lack of staffing. Central Maine Healthcare is not alone among Maine health systems facing this November 1st crisis.
As the Republican Leaders of the Senate and House we are writing to request that we convene the Legislature to amend the Governor’s mandate to allow for a testing exemption. Central Maine Healthcare is pleading for us to allow regular testing, whether it is weekly, twice a week so that they can continue to serve Mainers. This is the policy that was in place for the last year and worked without incident. A bill amending the Governor’s mandate that allows for healthcare workers to provide negative tests to continue working would ensure that empty ICU beds were available to those who need them; it would prevent six hour long waits in the ER as short staffed units attempt to triage; it would ensure minority communities in our cities get the care they need, and protect Maine’s elderly by getting them into long term care and out of the hospital setting.
Mainers should not be denied access to healthcare because the Governor refuses to act to keep hospital beds available.
It is our responsibility to remove this self-imposed rationing of care. The impact on Mainers of doing nothing is devastating across health systems. From our nursing homes, who will be unable to take new patients which will further limit the beds available at our hospitals, to EMS workers responsible for getting emergency cases to the hospitals, we are heading to a breaking point. We have enclosed the “CMMC Diversions” alert from Central Maine Healthcare. It is not hyperbole to suggest Mainers will die as a result of the Governor’s mandate if we refuse to convene the legislature and enact a testing exemption.
We implore you to poll legislators to bring back the Legislature so this impending crisis can be addressed. We must convene so that Mainers continue to have access to the healthcare they need at our hospitals and nursing homes. We must act quickly or watch as Maine’s healthcare workers, sick, and elderly all suffer under this misguided policy.
Senator Jeffrey Timberlake
Senate Republican Leader
Representative Kathleen Dillingham
House Republican Leader
Cc: Governor Janet Mills
CMMC DIVERSIONS OCTOBER 11
Central Maine Medical Center is temporarily suspending pediatrics admissions. Pediatric patients who arrive at the CMMC Emergency Department will be evaluated, stabilized and, if needed, transferred to another facility for inpatient treatment,
Central Maine Medical Center is temporarily suspending ST EMI (heart attack) admissions, Patients who arrive at the CMMC Emergency Department with chest pain will be screened and stabilized, undergo a cardiac evaluation as needed and, if necessary, transferred to another facility for treatment.
Central Maine Medical Center is temporarily suspending trauma admissions. Patients who arrive at the CMMC Emergency Department with trauma will be screened and stabilized, undergo a trauma evaluation as needed and, if necessary, transferred to another facility for treatment.