Press Release

Maine Legislature's Failure to Consider Bill to Protect Rural Healthcare Will Have Devastating Impact on Rural Communities Say Nurses

Safe Patient Care Now

Members of the Maine State Nurses Association/National Nurses United (MSNA/NNU) say that the Legislative Committee’s failure to allow a critical bill to be taken up in the 2018 session, "An Act to Protect Rural Maine Healthcare," will have a very harmful impact on patients in rural Maine. 

“We are extremely disappointed and worried for patients that are living in rural parts of this state. Without the accountability required by this bill, hospitals will continue to have free reign to slash needed services leaving patients hours away from vital care,“ said MSNA President, Cokie Giles.

The bill requires that a healthcare facility considering the elimination of one or more major service line must 1) do an impact study (which must be made public) on the effect the proposed closure(s) will have on the affected community and 2) hold public hearings to get local input from on the decision to make the closure(s).

An appeal hearing for the bill will take place in the Maine Legislature at the end of November.

“The state of Maine needs this bill to protect other towns from going through what my town is going through right now,” said Maureen Hayward, RN, Chief Steward of the MSNA Chapter in Calais, Maine, where the local hospital recently closed its Obstetrics (OB) Department, leaving women within a forty-mile radius of Calais without local access to critical OB and pre-natal services.

“The Board of Directors of our Hospital told us they did not want any input from our community about their decision to close down this department that is essential to women’s health.”

The Maine State Nurses Association is affiliated with National Nurses United, the largest and fastest growing union of RNs in the nation. NNU has won landmark health and safety protections for nurses and patients in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease and workplace violence protection.