Early Winter 2010
Questions for Bill Jennings, Bridgeport Hospital’s New President & CEO
Questions for Bill Jennings, Bridgeport Hospital’s New President & CEO

On October 1, Bill Jennings officially began his duties as President & Chief Executive Officer of Bridgeport Hospital and Executive Vice President of Yale New Haven Health System. He joins the hospital from SSM St. Mary’s Health Center, a 582-bed hospital in St. Louis, MO, where he was also President of the SSM St. Louis Heart Institute. Bill recently fielded the following questions submitted by area residents, former patients and employees.

Q: The new Emergency Department looks great, but it still takes a long time to see a doctor. What’s being done to reduce wait times?

 A: The Emergency Department (ED) is a critical access point for healthcare in the community. I also know that wait times are the source of much concern for some. Because of that, I spent my first night on the job in the ED and learned that many steps have been taken to address wait times. Here’s what I learned: A Rapid Assessment Team, consisting of a physician or physician assistant, nurse and ED technician, sees patients quickly and starts diagnostic testing within minutes of the patient’s arrival. After initial evaluation of their condition, patients are referred to the care team for treatment of simple injuries, wound management, suture removal or to initiate care for more complex medical needs.

The ED also has a new nurse-flow coordinator who manages patient arrivals and ensures that tests and treatments are done. Finally, the ED has new “scribes” (specialized medical transcribers), who perform nonmedical functions and record details of a patient’s visit as dictated by the ED physician. The scribes allow physicians to focus more closely on patients and to see more patients.

I know that these and other steps will help reduce ED wait times. Our ED has undergone a multi-year expansion and renovation to provide the latest state-ofthe- art technology to our patients and medical teams. Now we’re working on process improvement to streamline the great care we deliver.

Q: During recent trips to the hospital to visit family and friends, I’ve noticed that it’s harder to find a parking space. Do you have plans to add more parking or set aside more spaces just for visitors?

A: Great point and one we’re making progress on. The solution to this is well underway, thanks to our facilities management team. First, I should explain that our Agnes and Ernie Kaulbach Parking Pavilion on Grant Street and the Ahlbin Centers Garage on Mill Hill Avenue are used by patients, visitors and staff, including myself. The Emergency Department (ED) Garage is for staff only, and 50 spaces in that garage are reserved for physicians. During the past year, we’ve seen a strain on the availability of parking for visitors and staff. This is due mostly to renovations in our ED garage, which have temporarily removed more than 100 spaces from use. As a result of the work in the ED garage, we needed to move employees to the Kaulbach (Grant Street) Garage. We’ve also seen a big increase in outside nursing schools using the hospital as a training site, which brings more cars to our garage. However, we’ve just moved 25 employees from the Kaulbach Garage to the Ahlbin Centers Garage, freeing up parking spots for patients and visitors. Recently, 100 spaces re-opened in the ED Garage and another 50 employees were moved from the Kaulbach Garage to the ED Garage. Therefore, I am confident we’ll all soon see significant improvement in parking availability–in time for the busy winter season.

Q: I can understand that the new visitor sign-in system in your lobby is for security, but now it takes longer to get in and visit patients. Is the new system permanent?

A: The new Visitor Confirm system is permanent, and we are one of many hospitals taking new measures to further ensure the safety of patients, visitors and staff. Visitor Confirm was championed by our Patient-Family Advisory Council and is a response to patients and staff members who recognize the value of a liberal visitation policy, but at the same time want to ensure that everyone in the building has a reason to be here. Additionally, Visitor Confirm, along with the hospital’s employee badge-in system and patient registration system, allows us to know exactly who is in the building at any given time so that in the case of an emergency (such as last summer’s tornado) we can quickly and efficiently track and account for everyone in our “house.” In terms of visitor wait times, the former system of looking up a patient’s location, writing out a pass and providing directions to the visitor took about 60 seconds. Based on actual observation, Visitor Confirm takes roughly the same amount of time—and it prints out a visitor badge. In my first weeks on the job, I’ve asked visitors and employees how they feel about the new system. The response has been positive, and Visitor Confirm has been welcomed as an enhancement.


Bill Jennings

Q: I like the décor in your lobby food shop, but how about reducing prices a little and offering more variety?

A: It’s been our aim to provide quality menu selections in our Jazzman’s/Pandini’s lobby shop and our secondfloor cafeteria (Café 267) that cater to the preferences of our visitors. Café 267’s menu is designed to offer value, selection and quick service. Deli, grill, entrée and soup/sandwich combo meals are a great way to stretch your money, and you can add a side dish and fountain beverage for just a couple of dollars more. Coffee lovers can purchase a reusable coffee mug and get refills for only 90 cents. Café 267 also offers a “value” muffin-and-coffee breakfast and “value” pre-made sandwiches. “Value” burgers or chicken sandwiches for $1 are also being considered. Based on a survey of visitors and staff about food preferences and price, Jazzman’s/Pandini’s in our main lobby offers a more upscale dining experience. There was also a very strong desire for freshly prepared items that customers were willing to wait for and pay a bit more for. While Jazzman’s/Pandini’s may not be a choice for value meals, it does meet the specific needs of many of our visitors and staff.

Q: Are there plans to move more services into the towns surrounding the hospital?

A: We know that patients prefer to have safe, high-quality services near their homes so they don’t have to travel far to access them. To that end, we must continue to invest in placing services in the communities we serve so they are closer to the residents who need them. These include facilities like our Fairfield Urgent Care Center, Huntington Walk-In Medical Center, laboratory blood draw stations and Ahlbin Centers outpatient rehabilitation sites. Our most recent example is a brand new building, which will provide radiation on cology services, that is being constructed on the Norma F. Pfriem Cancer Institute Park Avenue campus at 5520 Park Avenue in Trumbull. At the same time, we need to ensure that the infrastructure of our main campus in Bridgeport is well maintained and kept current.

Visit Bridgeport Hospital’s Facebook page for images of Bill Jennings’ welcome events.