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CEO Message: May 2020

Dear Colleagues:

I hope you are all doing well.

We officially celebrate Nurses Week from May 6 - 12 every year, and I would like to thank all of our nurses for their expertise and dedication to patient care as they continue to work on the front lines during the COVID-19 crisis. Your sacrifice and tireless efforts are wholeheartedly appreciated.

The COVID-19 outbreak has continued to demand all of our attention and efforts. My thanks to all of you for your hard work and perseverance. In this month’s newsletter, I will provide an update on some of the COVID-19-related activities taking place at Northeast Medical Group.

Attendance at the NEMG virtual town halls and COVID-19 educational webinars has been excellent, with some generating over 1,100 viewers. I would like to thank all of our contributors for their valuable information. View the Town Hall from May 8. Watch for invitations in your email for upcoming virtual town halls. The next one is May 22.

There has been a steady increase in telehealth visits. Nearly all of our sites continue to provide these types of appointments, and I am proud to report that as of May 15, we completed 85,810 visits, with video surpassing telephone encounters. Our clinicians have reported that video visits are more fulfilling and offer a greater perspective on how a patient is doing. Similarly, patients have reported feeling greater reassurance when they can see our clinicians, as well.

Annual wellness visits by video took effect on April 13. This visit type is important to our effort to continue conducting preventative health exams, and it will allow us to prospectively track the patients receiving these visits in conjunction with our value programs. As of this publication, we have completed 1,142 visits.

We currently maintain an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE). To ensure our supply lasts, a recycling process was put into effect at all NEMG locations serving as direct patient encounter (DPE) sites. The products in scope include surgical masks (Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3), N95 respirators and face shields. For more information on the NEMG PPE recycling process, please refer to the article in this issue.

The Care Coordination team has been involved in managing both presumed positive and confirmed positive COVID-19 patients in their homes through a series of outreach calls. The populations served are those that have been diagnosed in the community either through the bunker or their PCP, those that have sought care in the ED and via post-hospitalization follow-ups. We have collaborated very closely with Karen Brown, MD, incident clinician lead, to establish protocols for clinical outreach, risk stratification guidelines to assign the patient to the appropriate pathway, and standardized patient education and documentation in Epic. At the end of April, we were managing approximately 350 COVID-19 patients via this team effort and we look forward to adding pulse oximetry monitoring to our resources.

NEMG clinicians and staff continue to support many areas throughout YNHHS. Several clinicians and staff members have been redeployed throughout the health system to help out where possible and are also taking calls from the systemwide main COVID-19 call center. Please read a recent article about some of our NEMG clinicians volunteering at local hospitals. Kathy Bonaventura, APC clinical lead, developed a call center staffed by advanced practice clinicians (APC) to provide video or phone follow-ups to COVID-19 patients who have been discharged from hospitals as a way to show that YNHHS cares about their progress and to pick up any early deterioration which may cause readmission. These visits are conducted within 24 – 48 hours after discharge for any patient, regardless of delivery network, outside network, PCP, lack of PCP or length of hospitalization.

With the number of overall hospital admissions declining across the state, YNHHS has entered the COVID-19 recovery phase. For NEMG, the recovery phase will bring about a segmented reopening of our community practices and a restarting of hospital-based services and elective procedures. These efforts are being coordinated at the system level, within NEMG and alongside our Yale Medicine and community physician colleagues. We are anticipating a soft reopening of NEMG sites beginning on or about the week of May 18, with more sites opening in the first week of June, provided things remain stable. Our new normal will include the buffering of face-to-face visits for adequate social distancing, entry screening, testing and PPE guidelines, extended hours and telemedicine and other steps necessary to keep our patients, clinicians and staff safe. More information will be released in the coming days on the specifics of our reopening efforts.

Your physical and emotional well-being is top priority. To help navigate this challenging time, I urge you during these times to take advantage of the following resources:

  • The Employee and Family Resources Program offers confidential counseling.
  • A variety of helpful options can be found at

We are all in this together. On that thought, do not hesitate to talk to your supervisor or email me, via the “Ask the CEO” mailbox, with any questions or comments.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit the following:

Please visit the intranet for the most up-to-date information.

Thank you all for your diligent work and dedication to excellence in patient care.


Best wishes,

Prathibha Varkey, MBBS, MPH, MHPE, MBA
President and Chief Executive Officer
Northeast Medical Group