CBIA BizCast: Improving Children’s Health
CBIA’s BizCast team sits down with Connecticut Children’s Medical Center president and CEO James Shmerling, to discuss his 42-year career, navigating the pandemic, and the role of children’s hospitals in the community.
Shmerling said when he first thought about his career, he knew he wanted to work in children’s health, but didn’t want to be a surgeon.
“I wanted to have more of an impact on children, than one child at a time,” he said.
“I knew I wanted to do something on a more global scale and that’s what led me into administration.”
Shmerling arrived in Connecticut seven years ago after running the Children’s Hospital of Colorado for nine years.
It is his first time living and working in New England.
“I love Connecticut, love the people here. I love Connecticut Children’s and what we’re doing for children,” he said.
Eye on the Future
The importance of child healthcare was put in the spotlight during the pandemic.
“When COVID hit, we saw what happens,” Shmerling said. “It got exacerbated, we saw children who got very very ill, their mental health needs became more apparent.”
He said they spent a lot of time advocating for a bigger investment in children’s health, particularly mental and behavioral health.
“When we saw the pandemic, we saw the impact it was having on children, especially on their mental health needs, it became more visible so it helped us educate legislators and the community about the needs of children.”
In the wake of the pandemic, many people working in healthcare across the country were burned out and left the field.
Because of that, Connecticut Children’s focused on supporting and investing in its own employees, including hiring a psychologist just for staff.
“We’re putting a number of programs in place to help keep up the morale and take care of our employees,” he said.
“If employees aren’t healthy, it’s hard for them to take care of children.”
Looking to the future, Shmerling says one of his goals is to make sure kids and families can get the care they need where they live by expanding partnerships throughout the state.
“We have to understand and appreciate that there is a definite role for children’s hospitals,” he said.
“But we have a much bigger role in trying to promote their health out in the community, engage with families, and work with social service agencies.”
The CBIA BizCast is made possible through the generous support of Google. If you have a story to tell, contact Amanda Marlow.
EXPLORE BY CATEGORY
Stay Connected with CBIA News Digests
The latest news and information delivered directly to your inbox.