Healthcare Heroes

By: Jennifer Dayton

A hero is compelled to achieve a greater good, undertakes a journey of trials and overcomes the odds. First responders and healthcare workers in Greenwich are authentic heroes throughout our lives but never more so than today, and they are our greatest asset in the Greenwich community.

Gratitude to first responders and medical staff involved in Covid-related care is overflowing. Tens of thousands of calls to Greenwich Hospital have been answered with compassion and action. Our Yale New Haven Health System (YNHHS) qualified 500 new workers to respond to the pandemic. Tens of thousands of people have been tested for Covid-19. This capacity for wide testing not only benefits individuals, it is the lynchpin for rapid recovery of our economic health.

How fortunate we are to be surrounded by excellent health professionals and access to all medical specialties, given that the coronavirus has various effects. So far, the virus has adapted to avoid detection by antibodies. This is a time when we need Yankee ingenuity. Greenwich hospital was founded a century ago and is still the oldest laboratory operating in the state. When I moved to town, it had already become a regional teaching hospital allied with the Yale University School of Medicine. This alliance produced in-house tests for Covid-19, named after its discovery year.

When I moved to my first house in Greenwich, my new neighbors told me about the hospital’s traditional champagne and lobster dinner in the maternity ward, but I scarcely believed it. Less than a year later, I was pregnant with our first child, who was born in the old hospital. As a new mother, I venerated the nursing staff and became a true believer when champagne arrived.

By my second house in Greenwich and the delivery of our second child, I raced to a brand new Greenwich Hospital. At dawn, I awakened, mystified by what appeared to be a room off an upscale hotel corridor. As I watched an orange disk of morning sun welcoming a new life into the world, I could not have known how important to me Greenwich Hospital would become. Over my sons’ early teenage years of accelerated physical growth combined with demanding sports, my sons and I felt indebted to emergency room staff.

Years later one of my grown sons became a hospital volunteer, and I myself became conscious of the benefit of great diagnostic care and medical advice. Those working in hospital care have been with us on many of life’s journeys and faced their own trials. After many years of impasse, CT hospitals had just settled state reimbursements, when confronted with this pandemic that unbalanced revenues. It will be a journey back to economic health, but well worth it, as the alternative to necessary spending is a risk to us all.

Town health workers complement the hospital by providing critical services. Health Department staff manage data, plan for emergencies, fill unmet needs, provide flu vaccines and in future may provide Covid-19 vaccines. I am thankful to our hospital and town for prioritizing their workers, in the face of losses. In the town budget discussions, there is talk among RTM members of cost-cutting to town operations. At this time, most enterprises interconnected with each other and with town government are struggling with reorganization. What residents want at a time of uncertainty is stability. The ability of town government to serve the public’s need for information, health and safety is our best defense.

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