A year in, Bridgeport Hospitals Milford campus success called absolutely inspiring – New Haven Register

Posted: June 13, 2020 at 11:46 am


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Emily Plavcan, Jennifer Cronin and Ashley Pannese, all physical therapists at the Milford Campus of Bridgeport Hospital, take a break to enjoy an ice cream supplied by Mr. Softee on the one-year anniversary of the hospitals coming together.

Emily Plavcan, Jennifer Cronin and Ashley Pannese, all physical therapists at the Milford Campus of Bridgeport Hospital, take a break to enjoy an ice cream supplied by Mr. Softee on the one-year anniversary of

Photo: Bill Bloxsom / Hearst Connecticut Media

Emily Plavcan, Jennifer Cronin and Ashley Pannese, all physical therapists at the Milford Campus of Bridgeport Hospital, take a break to enjoy an ice cream supplied by Mr. Softee on the one-year anniversary of the hospitals coming together.

Emily Plavcan, Jennifer Cronin and Ashley Pannese, all physical therapists at the Milford Campus of Bridgeport Hospital, take a break to enjoy an ice cream supplied by Mr. Softee on the one-year anniversary of

A year in, Bridgeport Hospitals Milford campus success called absolutely inspiring

MILFORD There was a year of successes to celebrate.

So, at the Milford Campus of Bridgeport Hospital, they brought out the ice cream.

No one could have predicted what was in store for the two institutions, which are part of Yale New Haven Health, when they merged on June 9, 2019.

If we hadnt been together already at the time COVID hit, Bridgeport would have been trying to figure out how to care for the non-COVID patients without the beds to do it and how do you pay for it, said Gina Calder, administrator at the Milford campus and vice president for Bridgeport Hospital.

Calder said, for instance, that in April alone, Bridgeport Hospital spent almost $5 million just on COVID equipment and PPE (personal protective equipment).

There is no way an independent small community hospital can afford that, she said. We spent that money in the context of the Yale New Haven Health system.

That meant that we were getting all the discounts that the supplier pipeline offers, discounts that a single institution doesnt have access to, Calder said. As we look at it, neither Milford nor Bridgeport would have survived this without each other.

Sometimes during an emergency, a new relationship is forged.

In the year prior to the integration, we heard a lot of promises, said Karen Kipfer, executive program manager at the Milford Campus. Yale New Haven and Bridgeport said they were going to do A-B-C, and they delivered on their promises. Change can be difficult, but the Milford community kept their hospital, so it was a win-win for everybody.

Victor Morris, the associate chief medical officer at Bridgeport Hospital, Milford campus, came to Milford six months prior to the transition.

It has been going where we wanted to go, prior to COVID, he said. A lot of improvements were put into the facility. Patient numbers are way up. Weve improved our clinical care capabilities, our emergency department, surgeons, and expanded cardiology.

The Milford Campus didnt shrink, as had been feared by some the remaining staff and the community: it grew.

We recognized that Milford was actually understaffed so we invested in bringing in more staff onto the campus, posting 100 new FTEs (full time equivalents), Calder said. It (manpower needs) were across all areas and disciplines. We got close to being able to fill those just before COVID hit. It was perfect timing.

Milford then had the staff in place to handle the overflow from Bridgeport Hospital.

There were so many patients at the Bridgeport campus that we needed to move the non-COVID patients here, Calder said. We (Milford) were opening areas that typically you dont open for surgery care. We opened our PACU (post-anesthesia care unit) for other needs. If we hadnt filled those positions, there would have been no one to fill those shifts.

Morris said he wasnt surprised with the Milford Campus success.

You can see it by how quickly the positions filled that this was going to work going forward, Morris said. I was at Yale New Haven from 1990 to 2018 before I came down here to help. Now I see staff from New Haven from the Milford area who chose to live here.

It is Bridgeport Hospital, Milford campus. Everything they do at Bridgeport Hospital we do here (not COVID), all the stuff they do at Yale New Haven, Morris said. Right now, a lot of Yale New Haven surgeons are operating down here, doing a lot of orthopedic cases. Oncology cases, that would have been done at the Bridgeport campus, are now done here.

Kipfer, on staff at Milford Hospital for 15 years, sees a promising future.

There has been a lot to celebrate this year, Kipfer said. Both institutions served each other, and through that, served our patients. I dont believe that Milford Hospital would have been able to survive the COVID pandemic, if we had remained an independent community hospital.

An important message to the Milford community going forward is that we have maintained this as a COVID-free campus, Kipfer said.

The work being done at each hospital is beneficial to the other.

Milford was packed the whole time with people that didnt have COVID, Morris said. Bridgeport handled the COVID. But people were still getting pneumonia, skin infections, asthma, appendicitis, so this campus remained full.

Calder agreed.

Because we were COVID-free, our focus here was on the adult older population. It was important that we could take care of that vulnerable population, she said. And as we were able to open things like elective surgeries, the staff from Bridgeport campus came here to Milford to help kick-start all the work in the operating room and getting all the surgeons ramped back up.

I couldnt have envisioned it going better, Calder said.

Im most impressed by the teamwork in our organization. They have never shied away from the work that had to be done, and they did it in a positive and enthusiastic way, Calder said. They all saw what was possible on the other side of this, and they used that to feed their motivation. It has been absolutely inspiring.

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com; Twitter: @blox354

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