BELFAST – The operators of a retirement home hit hard by the coronavirus asked the Maine National Guard for help. Guardsmen showed up Monday morning.
“We’re working through the Maine CDC. We got four National Guardsman in here today,” said Matt Griswold, executive director of Tall Pines Retirement and Healthcare Community.
“They came with their own PPE and they’re helping us get on top of our clean downs in all our units. They’ve been awesome,” he said.
Maine Army National Guard Maj. Carl Lamb said the group’s mission at Tall Pines is to augment staff there as part of the effort to curb the spread of the illness.
He added that Maine guardsmen recently went to New Hampshire to get personal protection equipment, delivered respirators to Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor and to the Portland Fire Department. They also have set up a triage tent at the VA Medical Center at Togus.
Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah said Monday that 28 Tall Pines residents and 10 staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 and eight have died, an increase of three from Friday.
“Everybody here is fighting through so much and working so hard. There are heroes in this building every day who haven’t seen their families. I haven’t hugged my own son in weeks,” Griswold said.
Every individual at Tall Pines, which is actually two facilities, has been tested for the virus.
“We are working so hard and just everybody out there — please support us and know we’re doing everything we can to take care of our residents, to take care of our staff,” he said.
Tall Pines is one of half a dozen long-term care and rehabilitation facilities in Maine affected by the coronavirus. Shah said his agency is investigating all of them.
Meanwhile, the guard is waiting for new orders, Lamb said.
“Maine can feel confident that we’ve got our thumb on the pulse and standing by to assist as directed,” he said
Under a state of emergency, this is one of the many jobs the guard can be tasked to do.