How 10 hospital CEOs are responding to coronavirus this week

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Here is how 10 hospital CEOs, from large national systems to small community hospitals, are responding to COVID-19 the week of March 23:

1. A diagnostic tool for rapid COVID-19 testing developed by Hackensack (N.J.) Meridian Health's Center for Discovery and Innovation will now be available to other health systems. Of the development, Robert Garrett, Hackensack Meridian Health CEO, said, "Our scientists at the CDI have given our health network a crucial tool to treat New Jersey patients in real time. Now their innovation will help others at this time of urgent need."

2. The CEO of Phoebe Putney Health System said the Albany, Ga.-based organization is seeing its monthslong supply stockpile deplete quickly amid the COVID-19 pandemic. "We went through six months of supplies in just a little over seven days," said CEO Scott Steiner. "Phoebe Putney is a pretty large system in southwest Georgia, the largest, eighth largest in the state, and we feel like we were pretty well prepared, thinking about China and what they were going through. We ordered a ton of supplies and hoping we'd never have to use them, thinking a small urban rural market wouldn't be hit very hard, and, well, we were wrong."

3. Jody Lomeo, CEO of Buffalo, N.Y.-based Kaleida Health, said the system is seeking help from nurses, physicians and support staff to work on its response team for COVID-19. "As the pandemic continues to surge, the healthcare workforce remains on the front lines of caring for the community. With an increased amount of infected patients and increasing hospital occupancy, there is an urgent need for more clinical staff to care for these patients," she said.

4. The COVID-19 pandemic is creating a financial crisis that could cripple U.S. hospitals and health systems, Southfield, Mich.-based Beaumont Health CEO John Fox wrote in an op-ed sent to Becker's Hospital Review. "Over decades, American hospital systems have become dependent on higher-margin surgical, imaging and other procedures cross-subsidizing low or negative-margin complex medical patients often with many chronic diseases," Mr. Fox wrote. 

5. Johnson City, Tenn.-based Ballad Health is warning that the financial hit to the system from COVID-19 could reach "nine figures" in 90 days. To address the financial hit, Ballad Health CEO Alan Levine said "all options are on the table," including temporary workforce reductions and layoffs.

6. Mike McCafferty, the CEO of Sheridan (Wyo.) Memorial Hospital reiterated to his staff the importance of social distancing amid the COVID-19 outbreak. "I would encourage everyone to take very seriously the guidance we have received around social distancing and self-isolation. These measures, although extreme, may ultimately save lives and allow us to truly care for the people who will need us at the hospital in the coming days," he said in a memo.

7. Thomas Priselac, president and CEO of Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, said the hospital has joined many others in postponing elective surgeries for the next few weeks. "We have this in hand. We are doing what we always do: making sure that our patients are getting the best possible care. As always, we have patients with a wide variety of needs, and at present that includes COVID-19 patients, along with the hundreds of other patients with other medical needs," he said.

8. David Lubarsky, CEO of UC Davis Health in Sacramento, informed hospital employees about how some colleagues had been infected with COVID-19. In a memo to staff cited in The Sacramento Bee, Mr. Lubarsky said, "In the coming days and weeks, there will be literally dozens of our team members who will have to call in sick and stay at home to rest and get well."

9. Carlos Migoya, the CEO of Jackson Health System in Miami, offered nonclinical employees an option to take a voluntary personal leave during the next few weeks to avoid layoffs, according to Local 10. "These last few weeks have been anxious, exhausting and even frightening," he said, adding that the outbreak has placed "unbelievable strain on our financial foundation."

10. Utica, N.Y.-based Mohawk Valley Health System has made some workforce changes as it prepares for a surge of patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic. President and CEO Darlene Stromstad and Chief Physician Executive Kent Hall, MD, said the changes involve recruiting physicians, nurses and other healthcare specialists, such as respiratory therapists, who have retired recently or moved to nearby facilities.

 

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