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
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
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
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.
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.