Processing Your Payment

Please do not leave this page until complete. This can take a few moments.

January 12, 2022

YNHH: Hundreds of staffers out sick while COVID in-patient numbers rise

PHOTO | File image Yale New Haven Hospital.

Yale New Haven Health system leaders are reporting high numbers of COVID-positive inpatients while hundreds of its healthcare workers have been out sick.

CEO Marna P. Borgstrom reported Wednesday that the health system had 738 patients with COVID across the health system. 

Of these, 106 were in intensive care units, and 68 were on ventilators. Most of the inpatients are at Yale New Haven Hospital, with 429, and at Bridgeport Hospital, with 179. The remainder were spread among Greenwich Hospital, Lawrence + Memorial in New London and Westerly Hospital in Rhode Island.

In comparison, in mid-December, there were 210 COVID inpatients across the entire health system, so the numbers more than tripled in a four-week period.

“We haven’t seen numbers like this since the spring of 2020,” Borgstrom said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Ned Lamont’s office reported that COVID hospitalizations statewide were at 1,920.

Borgstrom also reported that record numbers of staff have been out. Last week, the health system hit a point where more than 700 members of its team were out sick. On Wednesday, 439 people were out with COVID, she said.

“We are really stretched with so many people out and demand (for care) so high,” Borgstrom said.

The health system has required all staff members to be vaccinated, and it is now also requiring employees to get booster shots by March.

Borgstrom stressed that the vaccines are working to help prevent serious illness. The system’s workers have been told to stay home if they are symptomatic at all, even if mildly ill, to avoid spreading the disease to others.

Dr. Thomas Balcezak, chief clinical officer, Yale New Haven Health, said, “The vaccine is not perfect and you will get breakthrough cases. These cases for the most part are mild.”

“Our best defense is to be vaccinated, boosted and masked,” he added.

Last month, the health system restricted visitors due to COVID levels.

The inpatients with COVID fall into three categories, including those who are hospitalized due to COVID symptoms, those with other chronic conditions exacerbated by COVID, and those who are there for other reasons entirely who happened to test positive upon admission. 

Throughout the pandemic, the latter category had represented about 2% of the COVID inpatients, but more recently, it has grown to about 10 to 15%, according to Balcezak.

Borgstrom reported that the length of the pandemic and ongoing frustration has led to friction.

“We hear there is a growing reduction in civility among patients and family members,” Borgstrom said. “Civility and kindness go a long way, and will help reduce the frustration our team is experiencing.”

In one incident, she reported that there was a fistfight at a testing site in Fairfield after someone accused another person of cutting in line. There have also been instances of patients and family members berating and “being disrespectful” toward staff, according to Borgstrom.

“Our people are tired and exhausted,” Borgstrom said. “Our staff has been asked to pick up additional shifts. This has been an unbelievably long marathon.”

Contact Michelle Tuccitto Sullo at


Sign up for Enews

Related Content


Order a PDF