Bridgeport Hospital, like the health care sector itself, is in a period of transition – the most obvious sign of which is the presence of Anne Diamond, who began work as its new president about five weeks ago.
“Health care is so dynamic and complex right now,” Diamond, who was announced as Bridgeport’s leader in September, said. “You have what’s going on with the Affordable Care Act in the courts, and the general move towards more outpatient care. But our biggest challenge is that we still need to do more for our patients, particularly the underserved parts of the community.”
While somewhat disheartened by a federal appeals court’s ruling that the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate is unconstitutional, Diamond insisted that the hospital would continue to strive “to be able to care for as many patients as we can.” The almost concurrent state legislature’s approval of Connecticut’s settlement of a lawsuit filed by the state’s hospitals over the so-called “hospital tax” and Medicare reimbursement rates will help with that, she said.
“I’m very pleased that it’s been settled,” said Diamond, who is also on the board of trustees of the Connecticut Hospital Association, which led the legal challenge. “And I really do believe that the settlement will build a healthier Connecticut and help our patients. I’m looking forward to working more collaboratively with the state moving forward.”
Diamond joined Bridgeport from Day Kimball Hospital in Putnam, where she was president and CEO. Prior to that she spent seven years – four as CEO – at UConn Health’s John Dempsey Hospital.
She said she was familiar with Bridgeport Hospital mainly through her CHA affiliation, where she got to know fellow trustees Chris O’Connor and Marna Borgstrom, executive vice president/COO and CEO of Yale New Haven Health, respectively.
“I was having lunch with Marna, and she mentioned the shift in leadership (at Bridgeport, part of the YNHH system),” Diamond recalled. “She said, ‘I know you’re not looking for anything, but you should come over and have a look around’.”
That visit played a big role in winning her over, she said. “Coming into the hospital to meet with the key leaders and senior team, I was struck by what an amazing place it is, and how warm and friendly the staff were,” Diamond said. “To them I was just another person in a suit coming to meet people. And now I see it every day – the dedication and the fact that they’re genuinely nice people, which you don’t necessarily see all the time.”
The institution’s status as the only specialized burn care facility in Connecticut, and its “really tremendous” emergency department – which receives 100,000 visits a year, most of which involve significantly complex trauma cases – helped solidify her interest in coming aboard, she said.
Diamond arrived at the hospital nearly a year after former President William Jennings exited to become president and CEO of Reading (Pennsylvania) Hospital. Michael Ivy, who served as interim president and CEO since Jennings’ departure, continues to practice at Bridgeport.
Borgstrom said that Diamond was selected after a long and careful interviewing process. “She has an intimate familiarity with the evolving health care environment in Connecticut and a strong track record of forging lasting and strategic relationships with physicians and the broader community,” she said.
Although it began before she took the position, Diamond is also part of the integration of Milford Hospital into Bridgeport. YNHH is restructuring the Milford campus into a community hospital and center for gerontologic health, staffed with clinicians who have the requisite geriatric competencies to care for an aging population based upon the patient’s goals, preferences and values.
“I’ve been impressed” by how that process is going, Diamond said. “We’re making a huge investment in technology, staff and education – we’ve had 100 technologies installed in the last six months.”
Moving forward, she said she and YNHH are committed to staying on top of the trend towards outpatient and home health care.
“We will remain on the cutting edge,” she said, “whether it’s telemedicine, an app on your phone … we’re building and preparing for all of that.”
Nevertheless, she said, “We will also continue being the type of hospital we are – treating the sickest of sick patients, treating complex burns, trauma, high-risk births and other diseases. There will always be a need for in-patient care.”