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Maine Community College System

News Release

Wednesday, May 2, 2001
CONTACT: Alice Kirkpatrick
Tel: (207) 767-0116, ext. 3

Augusta, ME — As health care providers across the state struggle against a growing shortage of qualified workers, leaders from Maine's health care industry, higher education and the Legislature have come together to form a taskforce to look at the problem and seek solutions.

The effort was initiated by the Maine Technical College System — a major provider of health care training and education — in response to growing concern being voiced by health industry officials.

Health care providers in Maine report shortages of nurses, health technicians, radiology technologists, and a range of other positions. The scope of the committee's work will focus on occupations that require a college education — from one-year certificate to associate and bachelors degrees. The group will explore potential partnerships between the industry and higher education to help ease the shortage — as well as identify college programs that need to be added or expanded.

The group will hold a planning meeting this Friday, May 4th from 10:00 a.m. to noon in Augusta at the Maine Technical College System Office, 323 State Street. Four focus groups will be held around the state this spring to gather local input. The committee will meet throughout the summer, and is expected to announce its findings and recommendations in the fall.

The taskforce will be co-chaired by Norman Ledwin, President of Eastern Maine Medical Center, Senate President Michael H. Michaud of East Millinocket, and Michael Tyler, President and CEO of Sandy River Health System. Committee members include MTCS President John Fitzsimmons; University of Maine System Chancellor Terrence MacTaggart; Sandra Featherman, President of the University of New England, who will represent the Maine Independent Colleges Association; Joanne Fortin, Director of Nursing at Northern Maine Medical Center; Danielle Fournier, Employment Manager at Eastern Maine Medical Center; William Gillis, Owner of Clover Health Care; Maine Senator Susan Longley of Appleton; Lisa McIlwain, Vice President of Human Resources at Miles Health Care; Pat Philbrook, Executive Director of the Maine State Nurses Association; Alexander Szafran, Imaging Services Administrator, Maine Medical Center Radiology Department; and Therese Shipps, Director of Nursing at the University of Maine. The committee will be staffed by Jean Mattimore, Executive Director of the Center for Career Development, part of the Maine Technical College System.

Roughly one in ten Maine jobs are tied to health care. The Maine Department of Labor projects employment in the health care industry to grow by 24 percent between 1998 and 2008 — more than double the overall rate of job growth. Much of this growth is driven by Maineís aging population, and an industry that is becoming increasingly specialized.