A man walks toward the main entrance at St. Joseph's Hospital in Bangor the morning of April 22, 2020. Credit: Natalie Williams / BDN

The Massachusetts-based parent organization of Bangor’s St. Joseph Hospital is restructuring its IT operations, which will result in 104 employees taking jobs with a new contractor, switching to different jobs in the health care system or leaving the organization.

Covenant Health, whose health care system also includes St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston and St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua, New Hampshire, announced internally on Tuesday that it’s partnering with the New Jersey-based company Long80 to improve its cyberinfrastructure and security.

The partnership will reshape Covenant’s information technology departments across its three hospitals in Bangor, Lewiston and Nashua, New Hampshire, according to Karen Sullivan, a Covenant spokesperson.

Covenant’s IT employees are centralized, so they’re not assigned to specific hospitals in the system. The company did not specify where the affected employees are located.

Covenant anticipates three likely outcomes for IT employees from the partnership with Long80, Sullivan said.

First, the hope is that many of Covenant’s existing IT staff will be hired by Long80 and work on Covenant’s account, she said. A second outcome would be for existing Covenant staff to apply for other jobs across the organization, Sullivan said.

“We hope they may find jobs within Long80 and move to different accounts, but we hope that they service the Covenant account because that provides a transition,” she said. “I think there’s historical knowledge there that will be useful.”

If neither of those options works for existing staff, they will have to seek employment elsewhere.

“There may be some who decide they don’t want to do either of those things, and at that point, we will provide severance, transitional support and so forth,” Sullivan said.

Covenant is partnering with Long80 as part of an effort to improve its data security and protect patient information and data, Sullivan said. The company works with hospitals and other health care providers across the country.

“We are anticipating that they will provide us with advanced technology and technical expertise that, quite frankly, we don’t have now,” she said. “Health care IT, in particular cybersecurity, is an area that is changing, probably at the speed of light at this point, and Long80 is going to help us keep our systems and our patients safe.”

Long80 will visit each of Covenant’s hospitals in the coming weeks to assess the current state of IT and staff in the health system to chart a path forward, Covenant CEO and president Steve Grubbs said in a letter to staff Tuesday.

The transition to services from Long80 will not happen overnight, Sullivan said. It will likely take weeks, if not months, to integrate Covenant’s new partner into the company.

“Everybody in their life today is aware of hacking and breaching,” Sullivan said. “This company has deep experience in this area and is going to be able to help us with cybersecurity.”

Avatar photo

Sawyer Loftus

Sawyer Loftus is an investigative reporter at the Bangor Daily News. A graduate of the University of Vermont, Sawyer grew up in Vermont where he worked for Vermont Public Radio, The Burlington Free Press...