Greenwich Hospital called ‘ground zero for the state of Connecticut’ for coronavirus
GREENWICH — Since seeing its first coronavirus patient on March 14, Greenwich Hospital has become “kind of ground zero for the state of Connecticut,” Yale New Haven Health CEO Marna Borgstrom said Tuesday.
There are currently 107 coronavirus patients in the hospital, and 60 hospital employees have tested positive for the virus, said Norman Roth, president and CEO of Greenwich Hospital, who took part in a digital press conference with Borgstrom and Yale New Haven Health’s Chief Clinical Officer Tom Balcezak.
Greenwich Hospital, which is part of the Yale New Haven Health System, has been hit hard but has added beds to meet the demand. But the officials said there are concerns about the number of available ventilators.
There have been 16 deaths at Greenwich Hospital of patients who been diagnosed with coronavirus. The hospital takes in patients from all over the region, and there was no immediate breakdown on how many were from Greenwich.
The hospital has studied the “distribution and allocation of beds” as the number of cases increased, Roth said. Normally, it has 206 beds, with 32 set aside for maternity. But the beds have been shifted and more added to “ambulatory areas” of the hospital, he said.
The number of maternity beds has been reduced to 19, and through the use of its Holly Hill Lane facility, Greenwich Hospital now has the capacity for 84 additional beds.
“That brings the total capacity of Greenwich Hospital, including maternity, to 294 beds,” Roth said. “We have staffing plans in place to meet that need should it arise, but getting staff and keeping staff healthy is obviously a concern.”
The health of the staff is monitored regularly, he said. Initially, nine doctors had tested positive, but Roth said some of those staff members have recovered and are starting to return to work.
“We are maintaining good staff to patient ratios and have a lot of volunteers from the medical staff and other services who are providing support in areas that may not be their normal daily routine,” Roth said.
A total of 117 coronavirus patients have been discharged either to go home or to an after-care facility to continue their recovery — including 67 within the past week, he said.
But of the 107 coronavirus patients currently hospitalized, 24 were in Greenwich Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit and 22 of them were on ventilators, Roth said.
Four patients were successfully taken off ventilators on Monday and he said, “They are on the road to recovery.”
But the availability of ventilators continues to be a concern, Roth said. There are 20 more ventilators available for use at the hospital — seven of which were given to the facility on Monday by the State of Connecticut.
The hospital has a “sufficient quantity” of personal protective equipment, Roth said. Greenwich Hospital, like other parts of the Yale New Haven Health System, have begun reprocessing and sanitizing the N95 masks, which are critical to protecting front line medical workers from infection.
The supply of PPE is “something we are monitoring very closely” throughout the network, COO Balcezak said. He said supply chain challenges nationally make it difficult to get PPE and the N95 masks in particular.
Staff throughout the health system were using nearly 1,300 N95 masks a day last week, he said. And now they are using up to 3,000 a day because of the increase in patients.
“We are collecting the ones that aren’t soiled or damaged, and we have the capacity to reprocess more than what we are using every day using hydrogen peroxide vapor,” Balcezak said.
There have been reports of shortages of PPE, but Roth said that is not the case.
“I understand there is a lot of anxiety and concern, but on a day-to-day basis the staff are performing exceptionally well,” he said. “The care is good. The staff are positive. Yes it is extremely challenging with 107 in patient (coronavirus) patients, but overall the staff is doing an outstanding job.”
The clinical staff works 12-hour shifts, and Roth said the pandemic has necessitated extra shifts. Additional physicians and other staff have been brought in. The hospital has been putting up staff in 32 apartments it owns nearby as well as at the JHouse hotel in Riverside so the medical workers do not risk infecting their family members.