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More and more people with backgrounds in health care, public health and emergency response have volunteered to help join the fight against the pandemic in Maine, but no hospitals have needed them so far, according to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
As of Friday morning, 2,730 people, up from approximately 1,400 in January, had registered with Maine Responds, a partnership that keeps track of pre-credentialed medical volunteers in a single database so they may be deployed across the state in case of an emergency.
But none have been deployed to hospitals, which have not been as overrun with COVID-19 cases as those in some other states. In fact, many Maine hospitals have even more critical care beds open now than before the pandemic, as elective procedures have ceased.
Instead, volunteers have largely been supporting the Maine CDC, which is responsible for coordinating the state’s response to the pandemic. And instead of needing physicians and respiratory therapists, the state has relied more on volunteers with expertise in psychology, medical logistics and forklift operation.
The state has deployed volunteers from Maine Responds to support the Maine CDC’s operation to deliver personal protective equipment, such as masks and gowns, to health care facilities across the state, said spokesman Robert Long.
Another volunteer team trained in psychological first aid is supporting the Maine CDC’s internal call takers. And volunteers from Maine Responds will staff a new phone line to provide emotional support to workers responding to the pandemic.
All deployments, except for those related to the state’s logistics operation to coordinate protective gear deliveries, have been conducted remotely, Long said. He did not have a confirmed volunteer count as of Friday.
Prior to any deployment, all Maine Responds volunteers have their licenses verified as applicable to the task at hand and have to pass background checks.
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