Maine State Nurses Association Announces Support of New Bill

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) Members of the Maine State Nurses Association spoke out Thursday in support of a new bill they say will protect healthcare for patients in rural Maine.

The bill would require that healthcare facilities considering elimination of one or more major services must do an impact study and hold public hearings to get local input from the community before making a final decision for closure.

The bill is prompted by the recent closure of the obstetrics unit at Calais Regional Hospital.

The bill's sponsor, Representative Stephen Stanley of Medway, says it's an important proposal that will have major impact on rural hospitals if passed, and nurses agree.

Cokie Giles, President of MSNA says, "Our rural healthcare system is a lifeline to much of our population. When a hospital closes down some or all of its services, the affect on rural communities is devastating. And the loss of the O-B Unit is Calais is devastating to that community. Our bill will help other communities from having to deal with this incredibly difficult situation. It will ensure the kind of transparency and accountability that has been so lacking in the city of Calais."

Nurses are asking lawmakers to take up the bill during the legislature's emergency session next week.