County hospitals weigh in on if the vaccine mandate is still impacting staffing

Published: Dec. 16, 2022 at 7:29 PM EST
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AROOSTOOK COUNTY, Maine (WAGM) - Hospitals are experiencing staffing issues, but are they connected to the vaccine mandate put in place during the Covid pandemic?

Jenn Plant, RN and Chief Nursing Officer at Cary Medical Center, “It wasn’t a large volume of people that affected us and it’s nothing that we’ve been seeing coming through. I think it’s pretty well known if you’re gonna be working in a hospital that you need to be Covid vaccinated. You need to be flu vaccinated. So it hasn’t really caused a huge issue. We’re still seeing plenty of nursing students come through, so that’s been extremely encouraging.”

Dr. Brian Griffin, the Chief Medical Officer at the Houlton Regional Hospital, says, “We lost just a couple at the very beginning, but it certainly hasn’t limited us at this time because everyone’s coming from Maine and they know very well what the mandate is.”

Dr. Stephanie Gillis, the Director of Primary Care at Northern Maine Medical Center says, “And I’ll say the same for Northern Maine Medical Center, We did, you know, at the beginning definitely experienced a little bit of that from the Covid vaccine mandates, but now we’re also seeing lots of nursing students still coming through from the local university and definitely having no real ongoing issues with mandates.”

Greg Lafrancois, the CEO, Northern Light AR Gould says, “And at AR Gould, you know, we have had staff that have contracted COVID, but I honestly believe that their symptom, well, I know that their symptoms are muted. They are, they’re almost non-existent, which gets them back to work much quicker. So, I would say on the whole, we benefited more from the vaccine, getting the vaccine into our employees than has harmed us.”

Shawn Anderson, the CEO at Houlton Regional Hospital says, “In Houlton, we’ve actually seen a little glimmer of hope. Some of the individuals who had previously declined the vaccine and wound up leaving the healthcare industry for a period of time have now gotten vaccinated and have returned to their previous work home here at Houlton Regional Hospital. So that’s been a heartening event when that’s occurred here. And we’re certainly grateful to have those folks back with us. Taking care of residents in the area.”