Central Maine Medical Center is seen, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Lewiston, Maine. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

A national report now ranks Maine in the top tier of states when it comes to being prepared for public health emergencies.

The annual report from the nonpartisan Trust for America’s Health found Maine improved from last year’s rank in the mid-level tier and now joins 19 states at the top.

Spokesperson Rhea Farberman says Maine saw improvements in several areas between 2021 and 2022, including hospital safety, the percentage of residents vaccinated against the flu and the percentage of residents with access to paid time off, which increased from 50 percent to 59 percent.

“Maine has done a good job paying attention to the fundamentals as how to ensure strong public health systems. One thing that’s a challenge in every state is there is a connection between health disparities and emergency preparedness,” she says.

Farberman says when states address health inequities, communities will be more resilient in the face of the next public health emergency.

Maine has top marks for its public health lab capacity. And the percent of Maine hospitals with an “A” grade for patient safety increased from 41 percent to 44 percent.

Farberman says all states need to increase investment in public health.

“We need sustained, year in and year out flexible funding for public health.”

Farberman says that investment is critical to ensure a robust public health workforce and data infrastructure.

This story appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.