'The Clock Is Meaningless Now': Allegheny Health Network CEO Reports From the Front Lines of COVID-19

March 19, 2020

498 patients tested, 2,000 employees WFH

Cynthia Hundorfean is president and CEO of Allegheny Health Network, a Highmark Health health system in western Pennsylvania, and a member of the Managed Healthcare Executive editorial board. We emailed her some questions about how her health system is coping with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Has Allegheny Health Network had any COVID-19 cases? Yes. We are currently treating 2 COVID-19 inpatients.

Do your facilities have access to COVID-19 testing? We are currently utilizing commercial labs for testing and have tested 498 patients to date. Most of this testing continues to be done in the outpatient setting and at our emergency departments.

Have you canceled elective surgeries and other nonurgent sorts of care? If so, have you taken steps to reduce staffing levels in some way?
Yes, we have postponed all elective surgeries and nonessential clinical care. As a result, we have been moving staff into cross-functional roles as needed.

How many people are working from home and in what kind of jobs? AHN currently has more than 2,000 employees deployed to work from home across our finance, revenue cycle, analytics, clinical access, and administrative support teams. We continue to explore solutions to allow for additional teams to work remotely.

As a healthcare leader, what has been the hardest part of dealing COVID-19. Have there been any gratifying moments? The hardest part is constantly worrying about our physicians, nurses, and everyone else in our hospitals that will be routinely exposed to the virus. They will continue to be tested by this scenario, and I hope they know how much we honor them for the work they have been and are about to do.

Gratifying moments-the clock is meaningless now. There’s no beginning or end to our workday. It’s everyone working together with the same goal. It should be like this all of the time.