Page 26 - Healthcare News SepOct 2021
P. 26

Dr. Sarah
Hospital Epidemiologist, Baystate Medical Center; Vice Chair
for Clinical Affairs, Department
of Medicine, Baystate Health
She ‘Stands on a Wall Between the Community and Infectious Diseases’
DBy George O’Brien
r. Sarah Haessler has already been honored as a Healthcare Hero. Actually, a ‘Healthcare Super- hero,’ to be more precise.
That was the unofficial title bestowed upon 76 fully vaccinated healthcare workers from across
New England who attended the Super Bowl last February as guests of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. The group flew down on the Patriots’ team plane and got to see Tom Brady win his seventh Super Bowl — and promote vaccination while they were at it.
Haessler, hospital epidemiologist at Baystate Medical Center and vice chair for Clinical Affairs in the Department
of Medicine at Baystate Health, was one of three from this region to be so honored; she was joined by Baystate colleague Stephen Boyle Sr., senior director of Hospitality; and Cherie Rodriguez, a respiratory therapist at Mercy Medical Center.
Haessler has many memories from that day, with only some
of them involving the action on the field.
“It was the quintessential American experience,” she
recalled, noting that healthcare workers from across the country were recognized at the game. “It was big. Everything about it was big. The music was loud, there were fireworks for everything, there were military flyovers, the jumbo screens had the president on them ... America doesn’t do anything small. This was very big and very American.”
Haessler said pairs of tickets to the game were made available to various hospitals, and she was chosen by officials at Baystate to attend; she’s not sure how or why.
Matters are a little more clear when it comes to her being chosen as the winner in the intensely competitive Emerging Leader category for the Healthcare Heroes awards. She has been chosen in large part for her many efforts to prepare those at Baystate for what was coming in early 2020 and for her ongoing work throughout the pandemic to plan, educate, and help carry out all the operations of a hospital during extraordinary circumstances. But there is certainly more to the story. Indeed, COVID-19 wasn’t her first experience with
a highly infectious disease, and she acknowledged, with some resignation born from experience in her voice, that it won’t be her last.
Meanwhile, she has taken on more leadership roles over the years, serving as interim chief medical officer at Baystate Noble Hospital and currently sitting on the board of the Society of Healthcare Epidemiologists of America.
Her work in her chosen field, and her status as an emerging leader in Western
Leah Martin Photography
“Her role is to stand watch on the wall between our patients, our team members, our community, and the infectious agents that threaten their health. And she has successfully done this for more than a decade, not only in the face of a global pandemic the likes of which we have not experienced for more than 100 years, but every day of the year. Because in healthcare, those threats never
 Mass. and beyond, is best summed
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   A8 OCTOBER 2021

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