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CEO Message: November 2020

Dear Colleagues:

I hope you enjoyed your summer and cherished time with friends and family.

We just closed fiscal year 2020, and I want to thank you for your hard work and dedication throughout the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. As you know, COVID-19 cases are beginning to rise. In my August message, we had fewer than 20 COVID-19 positive patients admitted to our hospitals, system-wide. However, as of today, that number has increased to 325 inpatients. While we hope this second wave will be smaller in scale than that of last spring, the inclusion of flu season makes it even more imperative to continue to remain cognizant of measures to protect both our patients and staff.

Over the past several weeks, as our volumes have continued to return to pre-COVID-19 levels, some of our sites have experienced staffing shortages. These shortages are the result of a number of factors including increased numbers of employees on leave of absence (LOA) or out sick (some related to the recent COVID-19 uptick), increased turnover over the past 90 days and increased challenges in the COVID-19 environment to source and onboard new employees. In this month’s newsletter, I will discuss steps to address these deficiencies. Peter Logue, our COO, is leading these efforts.

We are working closely with System Human Resources to process and recruit to fill vacancies. Steps that are being taken to address these shortages, as quickly as possible, include:

  • Processing new vacancies for budgeted positions in the community practices for recruitment as soon as the vacancy is identified. This is the same process that was in use pre COVID-19.
  • Weekly monitoring of vacancies in the recruitment process and prioritizing recruitment to focus on sites with the most acute staffing issues.
  • Utilizing temporary employees sourced through staffing agencies to address vacancies while the recruitment process is underway.
  • Implementing daily regional staffing huddles where the practice operations managers evaluate staff in each site and move staff among sites to address staffing issues.
  • Developing a plan to increase the size of each regional float pool.

Sarah Kernizan, regional manager, for YNHHS Talent Acquisition, and Dorinda Manner, executive director, for YNHHS Talent Acquisition, have been partnering closely with practice supervisors and operations managers. A number of recruitment approaches are engaged at any given time specific to the unique challenges of each position and region including general advertisements using various mediums such as billboards and radio ads, social media posts, including LinkedIn and Indeed, and targeted recruitment and sourcing venues.

NEMG also uses and promotes the Employee Referral Bonus Program, which since inception has yielded 16 successful referrals. We are currently in the process of developing a targeted rapid recruitment strategy for all regions with special attention to the Greenwich delivery network, which has historically posed challenges due to its proximity to Stamford/Norwalk and New York hospitals and medical offices.

With the holidays coming up soon, we understand that stress is rising and there is significant pressure on our current staff as we try to maintain volume. Remember, your health and safety is our top priority. With the unprecedented challenges we face this flu season, it is more important than ever to get vaccinated. In addition, I encourage you to take part in our voluntary, confidential well-being check-ins available to all clinicians and staff. Anyone interested is asked to schedule an appointment via the following link: 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.

As we continue to navigate the emotional and isolating effects of COVID-19, I want to remind you 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

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

Please visit the intranet for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19.

Thank you again for your diligent work and commitment to our patients and NEMG through FY2020 and into our new fiscal year.

Keep well and safe and have a wonderful Thanksgiving,


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