Video by Patty Stocker
State Rep. James Arciero, talks with Christine Schuster to get her insight into the COVID – 19 pandemic as the Chief Executive Officer and President of Emerson Hospital in Concord. Schuster, a registered nurse with a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Chicago, has been a C.E.O. of hospitals for 23 years, the last 16 years of which have been at Emerson Hospital. The two discuss a variety of topics including Emerson’s emergency preparedness for the crisis; what steps the facility has taken to protect both their staff and patients; the financial difficulties healthcare facilities are facing with the halt of elective surgeries; how the stay-at-home orders appear to be working, and how the hospital faced equipment challenges early on.
“On a normal day we run maybe 14 – 15 vents (ventilators),” said Schuster. “All of a sudden a model said I needed 50. Through some very generous donors here in Concord, we were able to purchase some vents through the help of Congresswoman Lori Trahan. The personal protection equipment was a lot more difficult.”
Schuster reminds people that they shouldn’t be afraid to go to the hospital. “Truly one of the safest places you can be right now is the hospital because we are protected from head to toe,” she said. “Hospitals are very different now. You just can’t walk in. Everyone is checked on the way in; asked about symptoms. You have to Purell your hands and wear a mask.”
But it’s not all doom and gloom on the front lines. “There’s nothing like a crisis to bring people together,” said Schuster. “Throughout the hospital community and under the leadership of Steve Walsh from the Massachusetts Hospital Association, all of the hospitals are coming together. In fact, even up in southern New Hampshire….In the end I love healthcare because of the people in it. Their sole goal is to care for the community.”
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