Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center is pictured on Aug. 27, 2021. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

BANGOR, Maine — Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center will receive nearly $16 million from the federal government for unexpected costs it acquired during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly hiring temporary workers.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending $15,736,284 to Maine, which will reimburse the Bangor hospital and Level II trauma center. EMMC will receive the funding, which it applied for through FEMA, over the next several months, Northern Light Health spokesperson Suzanne Spruce said.

The funding adds to the more than $270 million in public assistance grants that FEMA has provided Maine as reimbursement for pandemic-related expenses. The money went to hospitals, higher education institutions, cities and other entities. This particular award focused on EMMC’s hiring of temporary medical and nursing staff to assist with increased patient loads between September 2021 and May 2022, though FEMA did not specify the number of hires.

FEMA also awarded $928,706 to the hospital in 2021 for setting up and running a vaccination center at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

“Providing resources for our partners on the frontlines of the pandemic fight is critical to their success, and to our success as a nation,” said Lori Ehrlich, FEMA Region 1 regional administrator, in a prepared statement.

FEMA’s public assistance program gives supplemental grants to state, tribal, territorial and local governments as well as some private nonprofits so communities can swiftly respond to or recover from major disasters or emergencies.

EMMC contracted with employment and traveling nurse agencies to hire registered nurses, certified nursing assistants and telemetry nurses to assist in the treatment of COVID-19 patients.

The agencies included Freedom Healthcare Staffing, Medical Solutions, O’Grady Peyton, Health Carousel Staffing and SimpliFi, according to FEMA.

FEMA gave nearly $3.7 million to Maine Medical Center in Portland for the cost of testing employees and hiring temporary staff. Another $2.7 million was for the added costs of operating safely, which included buying disinfectant supplies, safety glasses, ventilator circuits and filters for use in patient treatment. And $2.2 million reimbursed the hospital for costs associated with screening and providing COVID-19 tests to staff between May 2020 and October 2021, according to FEMA.

More than $1.5 million went to MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta for the cost of paying overtime for staff during the pandemic.

Other awards within Maine include nearly $2.7 million to the state for purchasing personal protective equipment for state employees and more than $4.2 million to Bowdoin College for the cost of testing students and faculty, among others.