Nine Physicians at Greenwich Hospital Test Positive for COVID-19

People in Greenwich are finding ways to express gratitude toward the health care workers on the front lines during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Deliveries of food from local eateries have been gratefully received.

There have been fundraisers for PPE and donations of personal protective equipment vital to protect health care workers from being infected, and in turn infecting other patients as well as their families when they go home.

Nevertheless, Marna Borgstrom, CEO of Yale New Haven Health,  said nine Greenwich Hospital physicians had tested positive for COVID-19.

The front line of health care workers are among the most at risk of being infected, and Jennifer Jackson, President of CT Hospital Association, said that lower Fairfield County hospitals – in particular Greenwich, Stamford, and Norwalk Hospitals – are most impacted by COVID-19 as a percentage of their total patient population, and the hospitals are planning for the worst.

“The point is not to overwhelm the system,” Jackson said responding to a question about capacity for COVID-19 patients. “Hospitals are being very creative and have already increased capacity considerably, and other spaces are being identified.”

In the same press conference Borgstrom mentioned the nine physicians with COVID-19, Dr. Tom Balcezak talked about the supply of N95 masks and policy on reusing them.

He said that while currently the supply is adequate for the existing number of patients, Balcezak said, “As the pandemic spreads, we’ll probably be tested as to the numbers of N95s we have, and we are being careful stewarding that resource.”

Beyond that, Balcezak said N95 masks are being collected and held in reserve.

“If we can reprocess them safely and eliminate the risk of infection from those masks, and prove they continue to work and serve their original function, as our supplies dwindle, we may try to reuse those masks in the future,” he said.

As for the nine physicians who tested positive for COVID-19, Diane Kelly, Greenwich Hospital’s chief operating officer said it is inevitable that health care workers will get sick, despite taking all appropriate precautions.

“But they are being tested quickly, sent home to recover and then returning to work when they are cleared by our Occupational Health staff,” she said.

Kelly said the hospital is not currently experiencing staffing issues as they have other physicians and clinicians who have filled any gaps. She credited the hospital’s relationship with the Yale New Haven Health System for that.

“We continue to monitor staffing on a daily basis to ensure that we are fully staffed,” Kelly added.

Even people who are healthy and display no symptoms are urged to practice social distancing to help flatten the curve, which is slowing down the spread of COVID-19 cases and staggering the number of patients who need acute hospital care over time.