Englewood Health named Pandemic Hero of the Year by Leapfrog Group

The Leapfrog Group has been advocating for patients and honoring hospitals for their commitment to public safety for 20 years with its semiannual report of grades.

This winter — to recognize the fact that the health care industry has been dealing with a once-in-a-century health care crisis — the group decided to honor one hospital in the entire country for its COVID-19 efforts with the Pandemic Hero of the Year Award.

Englewood Health was given the prestigious honor, selected by an interdisciplinary committee of Leapfrog leaders and advisers.

Leapfrog Group CEO Leah Binder said the decision was difficult to reach, and recognizes Englewood Health’s extraordinary commitment to patient safety and ensuring the health and well-being of its employees throughout the COVID-19 crisis

“Our interdisciplinary awards committee had the difficult job of reviewing dozens of excellent nominees from across the country,” she said. “They were most impressed by the people of Englewood Health, who came together in so many ways, showing courage and compassion in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. They have inspired us all.”

Englewood Health CEO Warren Geller was thrilled to get the recognition.

“At Englewood Health, we absolutely know what it means to go above and beyond,” he said. “Our entire team did not hesitate for one moment to care for the many communities we serve.

“What I witnessed — not surprisingly — was each and every member of the Englewood Health team stepping up in every way imaginable. They put everything else aside. They saved many lives. And our job as leaders was to support them every step of the way.

“I thank Leapfrog for recognizing this team and I am confident that we will continue to live up to this recognition in the days and months ahead.”

In honoring Englewood Health with the award, the selection committee noted several initiatives acted upon by the health system during the height of the surge, including:

  • The creation of a physician liaison team, in which surgeons and other physicians who were not caring for COVID-19 patients served as a connection for the patients’ families;
  • The launch of telemedicine visits to provide continuity of care;
  • The efforts of the patient and family engagement team to maintain needed human connections and minimize feelings of isolation for patients and families through daily phone calls and the use of virtual technology;
  • Human resources’ promotion of its employee assistance program and other means of mental health support for Englewood Health’s 5,000 employees and affiliated providers;
  • The establishment of an employee relief fund;
  • Myriad approaches to communicating the importance of social distancing;
  • Partnering with local first responders to prepare for COVID-19 patient arrivals, establish triage protocols, increase understanding of COVID-19, and educate on personal protection;
  • Taking time to celebrate successes, including a vehicle parade of first recognizing frontline workers, as well as playing the song “Don’t Stop Believin’” and having staff cheer as each COVID-19 patient was discharged to go home.

Kathleen Kaminsky, senior vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Englewood Health, said she was proud of the way the Englewood health care professionals came together.

“Our nurses and multidisciplinary team members demonstrated a commitment to provide the very best care for our patients and our community when we were at the epicenter of the pandemic in New Jersey last spring,” she said.

“At Englewood Health, we have a culture of family, and that feeling of being part of something bigger than you is my takeaway on how a health care organization can weather a public health crisis of this magnitude.

“Thank you to Leapfrog’s leadership for recognizing our family and our commitment to doing what we do best — caring for our community and about each other.”

As part of one of New Jersey’s leading hospitals and health care networks, Englewood Health officials said their clinical leaders have served as thought leaders in the community and collaborated across health systems to share best practices and continue caring for patients and staff throughout the pandemic.

In addition, the patient and family engagement team replaced traditional bedside rounding with virtual daily rounding, conducting daily calls to every admitted patient in the hospital, as well as every family, to provide updates and ensure needs were met.

Dr. Alexandra Gottdiener, the chief of medicine at Englewood Health, said she is grateful for the recognition.

“By sticking to our guiding principles of caring for our community and caring for one another, we were able to face the pandemic in a way that made our medical staff and team members feel supported and protected,” she said. “On behalf of all of the physicians at Englewood Health, I thank Leapfrog for recognizing our team’s unwavering commitment to our patients and the community.”

The Leapfrog Group is an independent national watchdog organization of employers and other purchasers focused on health care safety and quality.