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Updated: July 8, 2024 From the Editor

Editor's Note: Hospitals are investing in Maine, but challenges remain

Maine is having a surge of investment in its hospitals.

Senior Writer Laurie Schreiber looks at hospital expansion and renovation projects in Bar Harbor, Calais, Islesboro and Eastport, as well as Portland. See “Healthy health care,” which starts on Page 18.

Despite the wave of hospital expansion, the gap between rural and more urban hospitals continues to pose challenges.

As the head of operations for LifeFlight told Senior Writer Renee Cordes, “the rural places are really rural.” Some long-running programs and safeguards for rural areas have expired, creating “care deserts” in some areas. Hospitals are, by necessity, finding new ways to innovate, and that is part of Renee’s story. See our cover story, “Emergency treatments,” which starts on Page 10.

In some respects, travel nurses have been a blessing and a burden for hospitals. Travel nurses, who are typically on contract for up to three months, helped shore up staffing during the pandemic. But they also created an additional cost for hospitals. In 2019, hospitals allotted 4.7% of their nursing labor expenses to travel nurses; by 2022, that figure was 38.6%.

Today, hospitals are doing their best to recruit and retain permanent staff nurses. And at least one nurse staff writer Alexis Wells spoke with was glad to get a permanent job and put her “traveling” days behind her. See “Life support,” which starts on Page 15.

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