Only 75% of Northern Light Health Employees Would Get Care at Its Hospitals: Survey

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Just three-quarters of employees with Northern Light Health, a major hospital operator in Maine, said they would use the company for health care, according to an internal company survey.

“In an internal survey 75% percent of our employees systemwide said they would get care here,” said Suzanne R. Spruce, APR, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing & Communications Officer at Northern Light Health, in response to an inquiry.

“18% were neutral,” said Spruce. “This is from an employee engagement survey and not for public consumption.”

Those survey results come amid a string of bad news for the hospital company.

The Leapfrog Group, a watchdog organization that evaluates patient safety, gave Northern Light’s Eastern Maine Medical Center a “C” grade for patient safety.

And, at the end of the year, the company will be closing its acute rehabilitation program at Eastern Maine Medical Center.

“On December 31, 2022, we will discontinue the Inpatient Acute Rehabilitation program at the Medical Center,” said Spruce.

“This change helps us meet the greatest needs of the community with our resources available and will not reduce our employed staff,” she said.

With the closure of northern Maine’s only the acute rehab program, patients recovering from traumatic brain injuries or strokes will have to travel further afield, to Portland or Massachusetts, to find inpatient care.

The company’s cancer care center in Brewer stopped accepting new patients over the summer because of a shortage of medical oncologists.

However, Spruce said they expect to begin seeing new patients again next year.

Northern Light’s hospitals operate as 501(c)3 non-profits, a status the company says it earns by providing no-cost charity care to some individuals.

As a non-profit, the company is required to submit Form 990 filings with the IRS. Those filings, which are made available to the public, show how much money the company’s various hospitals make, the largest salaries at a given hospital, and the amount of charity care the organizations provide.

Eastern Maine Medical Center, for example, took in $1,108,583,904 in 2020, the most recent year for which the filings are available.

In that same year, EMMC says it provided a little more than $2 million in charity care to 10,373 patients. The company also takes losses on Medicare and Medicaid patients because the government programs reimburse at such a low rate.

According to the filing, EMMC lost $82.9 million on Medicare patients and $65.9 million on Medicaid patients.

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