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Northern Light Health shifts five hospitals to contingency staffing model

NLH officials say no employees with COVID-19 have returned to work
Published: Jan. 12, 2022 at 3:06 PM EST
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BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Northern Light Health is experiencing a new high of staff out of work due to COVID-19. According to system officials, 605 employees either have active illness or are in quarantine awaiting test results.

As a result of worker shortages, five hospitals in the Northern Light Health system are now operating under contingency staffing as of Wednesday. Those five hospitals are Northern Light Maine Coast, Mayo, CA Dean, Inland, and Sebasticook Valley.

Contingency staffing means the quarantine period for infected workers is five days, with a negative test required if asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic with improving conditions. This is more strict than CDC guidelines, which do not require a negative test.

The next tier would be crisis staffing, which would allow workers infected with COVID-19 to stay on the job. Northern Light crisis staffing has not been implemented yet, and would only be used a last resort.

“A number of factors would need to be in place to affect crisis staffing,” said Paul Bolin, Chief People Officer for Northern Light Health. “A combination of the number of patients and the acuity of those patients, in addition to the staff impacted by COVID and and out of work due to that. So, it would be a complicated assessment. It’s not just a, ‘If we have this number of patients, we’re at crisis.’ It is a complicated mix of patient acuity, patient needs, and staff.”

Besides the five previously mentioned, all other hospitals in the Northern Light System are operating on a conventional staffing model. That means infected workers face a seven to 10 day quarantine period followed by a negative test if asymptomatic.

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