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AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Department of Health and Human Services says it is rebuilding the ranks of public health nurses, but the department is hiring more slowly than required by a 2017 law.

Health and Human Services Commissioner Ricker Hamilton told lawmakers in February that the department had hired seven nurses in the preceding two months. The Bangor Daily News reports the new hires do not make much headway in restoring a corps of nurses that have fallen from 50 in 2011 to fewer than 15 in December last year.

A 2017 law that passed over a veto by Republican Gov. Paul LePage required restoration of the program to about 50 staff positions by March 1.

A department spokeswoman blamed a nationwide nurse staffing shortage for the continued non-restoration of the program.


Information from: Bangor Daily News,