coronavirus in connecticut

Yale New Haven Health Preparing for December COVID-19 Surge

Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images

Yale New Haven Health is starting off their new fiscal year facing rising COVID-19 cases and a $120 million shortfall from last year.

They say it’s due to fewer elective surgeries that bring in profits and a refusal to lay people off.

“We elected to not only to not lay off any employees, but to keep everyone employed and to pay a COVID-19 recognition bonus to our staff,” said Marna Borgstrom, Yale New Haven Health CEO.  

There are many things she could worry about, but Borgstrom is focused on one.   

“The one that worries me the most is keeping our staff healthy safe and engaged,” said Borgstrom.

She calls them heroes, the ones fighting the pandemic since March. As we approach an expected December peak, there may not be a backup for the team like there was this spring.

“The pandemic is so virulent in so many parts of the country that nobody is loaning out staff,” said Borgstrom.  

Right now, there are 400 COVID-19 patients across the hospital system. There are 217 COVID patients at Yale New Haven Hospital and 65 in the ICU. That may seem low, but the numbers are similar to those in March before the April peak.

Right now, Yale New Haven Hospital and the ICU is at 80% capacity.

“So, it’s almost as if we’re in a normal November, and on top of that we’ve added 413 additional patients,” said Dr. Tom Balcezak, YNHH chief clinical officer.

That’s what has him concerned about the upcoming holiday season.

“This Thursday this Thanksgiving could be a spreader event and it is incumbent upon all of us to make sure that it is not.”

He’s urging people to rethink dinner, adding even a small event with people outside your home could cause a spread.

Some tell NBC Connecticut they’re taking the warnings seriously.

“I live with my grandparents and that’s an even bigger thing for us because they’re not as young and more susceptible,” said Victoria Hummel of North Haven.

Sandy Parkerson of Cheshire says her family’s only plans are to take the dog on a hike.

“We usually travel actually on Thanksgiving but this year with COVID we’re going to stay at home,” said Parkerson.  

Last week Pfizer applied for an emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine. Balcezak says there’s not enough known yet about COVID-19 to determine if those recovering from it have natural immunity.

Balcezak says the hospital may have a vaccine available for staff by mid-December but we’re a long way off from an 80% vaccination rate needed for community immunity. He adds that misinformation about the vaccine is harmful in making progress.

“I think this nonsense needs to stop. And i think that this is something we just need to clear the air on and make sure we’re getting real information out there.”

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