Surge Protectors: Lamont Highlights "Response Team"

Leading Hospital CEO's Align Efforts

Dave Mager
March 30, 2020 - 10:11 pm

As the tragic numbers grow steadily in Connecticut (36 dead of COVID-19; 2,571 known cases), top healthcare executives from around the state are working together to strengthen the entire system for the life-or-death torrent of cases it will soon face.

At his daily briefing, Monday at the State Capitol, Gov. Ned Lamont introduced members of his Health System Response Team: Nuvance Health President and CEO John Murphy, Yale New Haven Health CEO Marna Borgstrom and Hartford Healthcare President and CEO Jeffrey Flaks. 

Also appearing in the Old Appropriations Room, site of the governor's new makeshift TV studio, was Jennifer Jackson, President and CEO of the Connecticut Hospital Association.

"We're running like hell and the virus is right behind us," said Gov. Lamont, "and that's why having this team... coordinating, working with all of our smaller hospitals as well to make sure we allocate space, allocate people... this is how we're trying to plan for this." 

Borgstrom, of Yale New Haven Health, is in a particularly tricky position at the moment: hospitals in New Haven County are now facing an influx of cases comparable to what state hotspot Fairfield County has faced since the start of the crisis. She runs hospitals in both counties.

Healthcare workers face more risks as the more cases of the highly communicable virus enter their workplace. Borgstrom says that nine physicians at Greenwich Hospital, including some from the emergency room staff, have tested positive for COVID-19.

Illnesses on the medical staff highlight the constant effort to obtain hard-to-find personal protective equipment. Flaks, of Hartford Healthcare, says that effort is non-stop:

"We're all scouring the globe, working all day, every day, trying to secure as much protective equipment as we can for our staff."   

The communal effort arranged by the Lamont Adinistration is intended to ensure that when a hospital or hospitals in one region are hit hardest, facilities from other parts of the state will transfer resources-- both human and material-- to fill the gaps.

"The virus is coming into the state at different places at different times," says Murphy, of Nuvance, which runs several hospitals in Western Connecticut, "so, to the extent that there is untapped capacity elsewhere in the state, we want to identify it, we want to take advantage of it." 

The Health System Response Team is also imploring the public to play a key role in limiting the inevitable damage ahead:

"Keep the (hospital) demand down," said Jackson, "Folks need to comply with the mitigation measures, the social distancing and all the other things that are put in place."