Maine Hospital Suspends Emergency-Level Care Over Staffing Shortage

A hospital in Maine announced it would suspend emergency-level care at its walk-in location due to a staffing shortage, coming about a week after a facility in Minnesota suspended its urgent care and emergency room service.

York Hospital said it is suspending emergency care at the Wells, Maine, facility starting Oct. 25.

“York Hospital in Wells will temporarily suspend emergency-level care,” the hospital said in a statement. “Wells Walk-In Care will continue to offer urgent care to all patients” seven days per week but won’t operate 24 hours per day.

“If you are experiencing life-threatening symptoms (severe pain, difficulty breathing) please dial 911 or visit our Emergency Department located on our York campus,” it said.

A spokesperson for the hospital, Jean Kolak, told local media that an unspecified staffing shortage prompted the closure but stressed that Maine’s pending vaccine mandate isn’t the reason why. The Epoch Times has contacted the facility for additional comment, including how long the suspensions of services will last.

The staffing shortage, she stressed to the Portsmouth Herald, is part of a broader staffing issue that has impacted healthcare providers for the past two years around the United States and Maine.

“Universally, health care has seen their workers leaving for other industries, retiring early and especially in nursing, taking on ‘traveler opportunities,’” Kolak said, although she did not say how many employees quit over the state’s mandate. About 98 percent of the hospital’s employees are vaccinated, she said.

Earlier this week,  Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer rejected a request from thousands of healthcare workers who object to the Maine vaccine mandate on religious grounds. Unlike most other states and cities, Maine’s mandate does not allow for healthcare workers to opt out of the vaccine with a religious exemption, only a medical one.

Breyer, however, wrote that legal aid group Liberty Counsel, who is representing the nurses, can file another emergency injunction. Breyer ordered Mills and other top Maine officials to respond to Liberty Counsel’s request by Oct. 25, according to the group.

The group told The Epoch Times that it will file a petition for a writ of certiorari asking the Supreme Court to review the case since there is now a split in the circuits. Maine’s vaccine requirement will begin Oct. 29.

“Liberty Counsel will also file the petition for writ of certiorari on behalf of more than 2,000 Maine health care workers asking the High Court to review the case since there is now a split in the circuits, with the First Circuit (governing Maine) denying injunctive relief and the Second Circuit (governing New York), granting injunctive relief regarding virtually identical factual and legal issues,” it said.

Earlier in October, a three-judge panel in Boston on Friday rejected a similar emergency motion that appealed against Maine’s pending mandate.

Meanwhile, a hospital in Minnesota announced Oct. 18 it would suspend its emergency room and urgent care services due to a nurses’ strike. Allina Health, located in Plymouth, told The Epoch Times that due to the strike, emergency and urgent care services at its WestHealth location were suspended from Sunday morning until Wednesday.

Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips

Breaking News Reporter

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Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.

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