Marie Vienneau, FACHE,
President, Northern Light Mayo Hospital and Northern Light CA Dean Hospital
While Mayo had a long-standing relationship with Northern Light Health, the merger opened vast new resources. Leaders at Mayo were included in daily COVID-19 Incident Command meetings, where they could tap into the expertise of the system’s healthcare professionals from across Maine. In addition, expert subgroups dedicated to clinical and support areas like infection control, facilities management, pharmacy, and others became lifelines.
“Usually, if a Mayo patient needs a ventilator, we get them started and transport them to EMMC,” says Pharmacy director Lindsay Pelletier, PharmD. “As a part of our COVID 19 response plan, Mayo prepared to keep patients on ventilators here in Dover-Foxcroft. Purchasing the medicines that are required for vented patients was not possible through my normal channels. Northern Light Health was able to get those supplies for us.”
Facilities director Mike Kessler had other worries as he considered plans to get Mayo grounds organized for emergency response mode. “Two weeks earlier, I would have been working on plans for our response only with the information I was able to gather on my own. The Thursday after the merger was final, I got a call from Northern Light’s Facility Planning, Design and Construction team, giving me details on the system’s COVID 19 testing plan. Two business days later, I had a tent on-site.” Mike adds that a few days later, his team visited the Bass Park testing site in Bangor and decided to make a few adjustments at Mayo. “I had a second, smaller tent in Dover-Foxcroft later the same day.”
Mike says the system Incident Command provided access to early intelligence in Maine through Northern Light Mercy Hospital’s experience with some of the first cases of COVID-19. “We were getting information about what was working in Portland before we had cases further north.” Mike adds that the benefits go both ways. His expertise in mechanical engineering, heating, cooling, plumbing, and medical gas systems benefits others in the system.
Marie says that the COVID-19 crisis put into “uncomfortably clear focus” the benefits and timing of the merger with Northern Light Health. “The financial prospects for Mayo as an independent hospital were dire. With the added pressure on the hospital of this pandemic response, we would likely have had to close services for good and lay off employees, at the very least. Worst case, it might have been the end for us. Instead, we are vibrant and fulfilling our mission to provide care in our community.”
Mike Kessler, Facilities Director,
Northern Light Mayo Hospital
Northern Light Mayo Hospital is feeling a reassurance of strength in numbers. Northern Light Health, for example, committed to not furlough employees, and in some cases offered reassignment for people whose usual job wasn’t in high demand. Likewise, a voluntary furlough was offered to those employees who had a personal need to step away for a while, such as children at home or underlying health conditions.
“I was one of those employees who worried that system integration would take away the wonderful culture and personality of our hospital,” confesses Lindsay, the Pharmacy director. “But we are the same people, with the same commitment to our community. What’s different is our access to the resources of this system and a network of smart and supportive peers!”
“Northern Light Health is managing a statewide plan for addressing this Coronavirus pandemic, including surge planning, supply chain, emergency response policies, staffing, infection control, even communication resources,” observes David McDermott, MD, senior physician executive for Mayo. “And we are at the table, contributing our voice and our ideas. We could not have done this on our own.”