Jeff Friedman, MHA ’93, Hospital & Healthcare Administration
Vice President, Operations
“The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated some of the limitations of a free market, competitive, fragmented model of health care.”
In what ways are you working on or responding to the COVID-19 outbreak?
EvergreenHealth, a 318 bed hospital in Kirkland, Washington, was the first organization in the country to deal with widespread community-acquired cases of COVID-19. My role has changed significantly because of the pandemic. Since March, I have supported our lab in expanding our COVID-19 testing capacity, including determining how to source supplies, which tests to offer and prioritizing testing with limited resources. Working with our drive-through testing team, we’ve expanded capacity and shifted from testing symptomatic patients and staff to testing asymptomatic patients preparing for surgery or other procedures. I’ve also led our business resumption team which is developing standards, processes, and timelines to resume elective surgery and other non-urgent procedures and visits that have been curtailed.
What are your thoughts about the current state of public health in relation to COVID-19?
In Washington, public health and health care systems are freely sharing information, equipment, supplies, and advice with each other in an effort to slow the spread. This epidemic has really shown the connection of the various components of the health care sector —from public health, to providers (acute, ambulatory, post-acute), to policy-makers to private sector (lab companies, pharmaceutical industry, supply manufacturers), to researchers — all wrapped up in the economic reality of dealing with a global event.
What have you learned about yourself through this experience?
In the absence of perfect information, you must move forward with the best information you can get and try to make progress. We realized early on when the CDC arrived that rather than provide us with answers, they were looking to examine the real-world impact of the virus in a U.S. health care system and have us provide them with feedback on what could work. They gave us advice and confirmed some of our decisions, but were not there to direct a public health response.