Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems is changing its name to Northern Light Health to reflect its ongoing shift from a loosely affiliated group of regional providers to a highly coordinated statewide health care system in Maine.

Since the acquisition of Mercy Health System and its flagship institution Mercy Hospital of Portland in 2013, EMHS’s geographical reach has exceeded the original regional limitations that its name suggests, said Matt Weed, senior vice president and chief strategy officer at EMHS.

Prior to 2013, EMHS was centered in the Bangor area with operations stretching as far north as Presque Isle. Now, it operates nine hospitals across northern, eastern and southern Maine, along with a variety of primary care and specialty physician practices, long-term care, home health and hospice agencies, and ground and air emergency transport.

“We’re not restricted to eastern Maine,” Weed said. “With the inclusion of Mercy back in 2013, the name (EMHS) became a misnomer for us because we’re across a broader stage.”

On Oct. 1, EMHS and all organizations affiliated with it will be rebranded as Northern Light Health, the organization said Monday. EMHS said the name change represents a key step in the system’s evolution from individual member providers with a regional focus to an integrated health organization with coordinated statewide health care offerings.

The name Northern Light Health was chosen out of more than 200 options that were considered, Weed said. The name did not conflict with any existing health organization, tested well in patient surveys and was favored by management because it suggests a brighter future for health care in the state.


“Light is another name for hope,” he said.

Weed said Northern Light Health has plans to improve the experience for its patients through enhanced coordination among member institutions, implementing better technology such as a statewide electronic medical records system, and providing higher quality and more compassionate care.

“At the end of the day, that is the brand,” he said. “This is not a marketing campaign or just kind of an advertising strategy. This needs to affect the way that care is provided to the individual patient.”

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:


Twitter: @jcraiganderson

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