An ambitious and determined leader, Hartford HealthCare President and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Flaks is committed to his organization, his employees, and his community. MetroHartford Alliance Content Manager Nan Price spoke with Jeff about leading a healthcare organization through the pandemic, embracing lessons learned, and new opportunities gained.
NAN PRICE: As a CEO, what is it like to lead a large organization through a global catastrophe?
JEFFREY FLAKS: In 2022 Hartford HealthCare’s first organization, the Institute of Living, will be celebrating its 200th anniversary. As we approach this milestone, I recognize that our organization has been here through world wars, a civil war, economic upheaval, public health crises, and social unrest. We’re going to be here after this pandemic—and we’re going to emerge stronger.
Throughout the pandemic, many of us have yearned for aspects of our lives to go back to normal. We constantly ask ourselves: When are we going to return to normal? But in healthcare we don’t ever want to go back to normal. Today, we’re better than we were before—and we need to be significantly better into the future.
From a leadership standpoint, this crisis provided us with an opportunity to do whatever was possible. It was a time to lean in and use all our capabilities and capacity to support the community in its time of greatest need.
NAN: With the nature of healthcare, your organization wasn’t necessarily in a position to transition to remote work.
JEFF: We were very pleased and enormously proud that we maintained our workforce in entirety, especially during those early days of the pandemic when there was so much uncertainty and concern. Our colleagues are healthcare heroes who display extraordinary courage and bravery.
We worked very hard to support our workforce and redeploy people to where they could help best during the pandemic. It was another contribution Hartford HealthCare could make to help strengthen and stabilize the broader community during this time.
Again, this is about becoming better than normal. We learned a tremendous amount from the pandemic about ways to support our colleagues more effectively and manage things differently. A lot of those lessons we’ll carry forward to help us be an even better place to work.