Northern Light Health officials say employees will be taken off schedule if not vaccinated

It comes amid a growing trend for health care companies, here and across the country.
Northern Light Health to require COVID-19 vaccines for all staff
Northern Light Health to require COVID-19 vaccines for all staff
Published: Aug. 3, 2021 at 6:17 PM EDT
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Northern Light Health officials are sharing more information about the decision to require staff to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

It comes amid a growing trend for health care companies, here and across the country.

Northern Light Health announced Monday it would require all staff to get a COVID-19 vaccine once one or more is approved by the FDA.

Senior Vice President Paul Bolin says the FDA is on its own timeline but has committed to accelerating the process.

“My speculation would be as good as anyone that the fall is the time frame. So that could be September through December, but we are expecting it sooner, earlier fall, than late fall, but again we’re looking at six to eight weeks,” Bolin said.

More than 12,000 people work at Northern Light.

Bolin says when the FDA signs off on a COVID shot, employees will have six weeks to get fully vaccinated.

He says outside of religious exemptions, those who choose not to get a shot won’t be allowed to return to work.

“We’re very hopeful that once the FDA has full approval of the vaccine that some who were hesitant will have their concerns resolved and then become vaccinated,” Bolin said.

Vice President and Chief Quality Officer Dr. Navneet Marwaha says their strategy is to continue trying to understand vaccine hesitancy and provide the best information for people to make informed decisions.

“I think it really comes down to responsibility and obligation to the profession that we’ve committed our careers,” Marwaha said.

Bolin says as of mid-July almost 80% of Northern Light employees were fully vaccinated.

He says they need to be prepared for any surge in cases that comes with the Delta variant.

“What we want to make sure is that we have a workforce that’s here to provide care to our patients and our communities and vaccine is a critical piece to that workforce continuity that we need to have in place in order to have that surge capacity,” Bolin said.

Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center announced changes to their visiting hours that will start Wednesday.

Adult inpatients are allowed only two visitors total per day.

End-of-Life patients are allowed four visitors per patient, per day, with two at the bedside at a time.

Trauma patients can have one escort that is allowed to leave the Medical Center one time each day and return.

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