Health care workers with Northern Light Inland Hospital test people who might have coronavirus at a drive-thru testing site Thursday on Kennedy Memorial Drive in Waterville. Morning Sentinel photo by Michael G. Seamans

Officials from Northern Light Health reported that all 10 of their hospitals can now process tests for COVID-19, cutting response times from days to hours.

Dr. James Jarvis, the medical specialist for Northern Light’s incident command, and Paul Bolin, senior vice president and chief human resource officer, answered questions at a press conference held Friday through ZOOM regarding the company’s testing efforts, alternative care sites and employee layoffs and furloughs.

Jarvis announced that all 10 of Northern Light’s hospitals are now able to process their own tests.

“We’re not relying on state or private companies,” Jarvis said. “We are now able to get test results back in hours instead of days. It’s been a real game changer for us.” 

Though Jarvis couldn’t put an exact number on it, he said that Northern Light has the capability to test 850 to 1,000 people per week and has been testing close to that number each week.

“Many of those are healthcare workers because they are in that ‘tier one’ group for testing,” Jarvis said.


The Center for Disease Control categorized the priority for testing into four tiers, the first being hospitalized patients and healthcare facility workers with symptoms.

Jarvis also confirmed that alternative care sites are being set up in the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor and the Cross Insurance Arena in Portland. These sites will be used to treat “less acute” patients like those who would regularly be released to a long term care facility or a rehab center.

The Cross Arena in Portland will hold at least 100 beds and the Cross Center in Bangor will hold at least 50 beds.

“Right now the need is greatest in Portland and then in Bangor,” Jarvis said. 

When asked about layoffs and furloughs, Bolin said the company has only offered voluntary furloughs.

“We have no intention of laying people off or reducing pay,” Bolin said. 

As of Friday afternoon, there are 586 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state. This is an increase of 26 from Thursday with one new death, bringing the statewide death toll up to 17.

Northern Light Health employs 12,000 people operating 10 hospitals and eight nursing homes across the state.

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