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Healthcare Providers and Organizations Back Question 4 Investments in Nursing Education to Address Nursing Cliff

Northern Light Health, MaineHealth, Maine Rural Health Collaborative, MaineGeneral Health,
and Maine Hospital Association Join AARP Maine and Leading Nursing Groups in Supporting Question 4

BANGOR, MAINE — Leading healthcare organizations representing Maine hospitals and many of the state’s residential care facilities announced their support today of Question 4, the University Workforce Bond, to help address the state’s nursing workforce crisis.  The bond package is pending voter approval next week and includes more than $12 million in nursing investments that are part of a Maine University Nursing Workforce Plan that aims to double enrollment, bring nursing education to high-need rural communities, and provide free nursing education to Maine students with the greatest financial need.  

The announcement came at an unveiling of a dedicated nursing education unit at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center developed in partnership with the University of Maine.  The unit implements evidenced-based educational models that will double the number of nursing student clinical experiences and is contributing to an increase in nursing enrollment at the University of Maine.   

Healthcare providers and organizations endorsing Question 4 as part of today’s event included the Northern Light Health Board, MaineHealth, MaineGeneral Health, the Maine Rural Health Collaborative and the Maine Hospital Association.  The provider announcement follows an update on the nursing workforce shortage last week that included a call for passage of Question 4 by the state’s leading nursing groups and AARP Maine.

Expressions of Support for Question 4

Northern Light Board of Directors
Steven Rich, vice chair of the Northern Light Health Board of Directors, shares, “Maine’s Nursing Action Coalition estimates that the shortage of nurses will be 2,700 by 2025. The updated estimate reflects the important work underway to increase the number of new nurse graduates from a baseline of 650 annually to 1,050 new nurses each year. Important progress has been made but much work remains as we are now at 800 new nurse graduates per year.”

“The University of Maine System is working with providers across the state to meet our growing demand for nurses,” said Katie Fullam Harris, Senior Vice President, Government Affairs and Accountable Care for MaineHealth. “MaineHealth commends our public universities for their leadership and urges support for the nursing investments included in Question 4 to help meet Maine’s critical need for new care providers.”

MaineGeneral Health
“The University plan to establish a Bachelors of Science in Nursing Education at UMA with cohorts in Brunswick, Ellsworth, Rockland and Rumford creates new and better options for students and stronger partnerships with our institutions,” said Jennifer Riggs, RN, Chief Nursing Officer for MaineGeneral Medical Center. “We support the plan. The passing of Question 4 benefits our students and our communities.”

Maine Rural Health Collaborative
The collaborative includes the following hospitals:  Northern Maine Medical Center in Fort Kent, Cary Medical Center in Caribou, Houlton Regional Hospital in Houlton, Millinocket Regional Hospital in Millinocket, St. Joseph Hospital in Bangor and Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor.

Peggy Pinkham, RN, MBA, Executive Director to MRHC offered, “The University Nursing Workforce Plan will expand nursing education into rural counties where half of our nursing workforce is over the age of 55.  This expansion of nursing education will give local residents an opportunity to become a part of our healthcare solution without having to leave our communities.”

Maine Hospital Association
“The Maine Hospital Association supports Question 4 because it provides a statewide response to Maine’s nursing shortage,” said Steven Michaud, President of the Maine Hospital Association which represents 36 community-governed hospitals in Maine.  “It’s a win-win for Maine by providing training for good jobs and bringing needed caregivers to our patients.”

University of Maine School of Nursing
“The dedicated nursing education unit we have established at North Light Eastern Maine Medical Center is an example of how innovation and partnership is increasing our nursing education capacity,” said Dr. Mary Walker, Director and Professor of the University of Maine School of Nursing.  “Investment is also critical if we are going to educate the number of highly skilled nursing professionals we need to meet Maine’s demand for healthcare. We are grateful for the partnership we have with Maine’s providers and are honored by their support for the University Workforce Bond.”