Martha Kulikowski, team leader of molecular virology at Northern Light Laboratory in Bangor, shown in a May 21, 2020, file photo. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

A company that runs testing sites and medical laboratories across the country will take over much of Northern Light Health’s lab services operation next spring.

Under the arrangement, Quest Diagnostics will manage nine of Northern Light’s hospital laboratories as well as the laboratory at Northern Light Cancer Care in Brewer. Northern Light employees working in the labs will become Quest Diagnostics employees, and no one is being laid off, according to Northern Light spokesperson Suzanne Spruce. 

Quest, which is acquiring the Northern Light assets in an all-cash transaction, is based in New Jersey and has more than 2,250 lab locations throughout the U.S. Its existing Maine operations are scattered across York and Cumberland counties.

Northern Light, based in Brewer, is the parent organization for 10 hospitals, including Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, and affiliated medical practices.

The acquisition will allow more Maine patients and physicians to access Quest’s testing options and allow for lower out-of-pocket costs for many services, Quest Diagnostics and Northern Light said in a joint statement announcing the transaction.

Quest’s laboratory in Marlborough, Massachusetts, will provide nonurgent advanced and routine clinical testing for physicians and patients now served by Northern Light Laboratory. A Quest rapid response lab in the Bangor area and select Northern Light Health hospital labs will perform tests requiring rapid results.

“Diagnostic testing is a highly specialized and rapidly evolving area of medicine,” Northern Light Health President and CEO Timothy Dentry said. “By collaborating with Quest Diagnostics, the industry leader, Northern Light Health positions itself to deliver the highest level of diagnostic innovation, service and affordability while energizing our core focus on patient care.”

The parties will complete the transaction in the first quarter of 2023, but declined to disclose the financial details of the deal.

The transaction between Northern Light and Quest isn’t yet finalized, so many details, such as how patients will schedule lab services, where they’ll go and where their bills will come from will be worked out in the coming months, Spruce said. 

For the time being, Spruce said people who receive diagnostic lab services from Northern Light will continue to do so at the same places and through the same processes, and will continue to do so until the sale is final next year. 

This sale comes at a time when the health care industry has seen challenges and changes, Spruce said, and “we must continue to evolve to survive.”

“Diagnostic laboratories are highly specified, high tech organizations that need continuous investment,” Spruce said. “Stepping away from this space leaves more room for us to focus on and invest in the delivery of patient care.”

Though Northern Light understands change is difficult, Spruce said the health care system “feels good about this relationship.” 

“Annually, Quest serves one in three adult Americans, and half the physicians and hospitals in the United States,” she said. “They know how to do this very well.”

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Kathleen O'Brien

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...