Skip to main content
Find a DoctorGet Care Now
Skip to main content








Flanked by YNHHS Chief Clinical Officer Thomas Balcezak, MD (left), former Chief Human Resources Officer Kevin Myatt, and YNHH Chief Nursing Officer Ena Williams, RN, Marna led an employee town hall early in the COVID-19 pandemic. (Consistent with CDC guidelines at that time, no masks were worn.)


Leading through challenging times with grit, grace and wisdom 

From the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, retiring Yale New Haven Health CEO Marna Borgstrom has witnessed many crises in her 43 years in health care and, as CEO for the past 17, has led the organization through challenging times with grit, grace and wisdom.

During a virtual employee town hall in March 2020, Marna – who will retire this month – remarked that she had been involved in a number of crises during her career, and expressed gratitude for a dedicated workforce that rose to every challenge: “There’s no better group of people that I would want in a lifeboat with me than the people who work in this Health System.”


When the COVID-19 vaccine first became available, Marna and other leaders joined staff throughout the health system to get the shot, and encouraged others to do the same.

While most Yale New Haven Health employees and physicians had never faced a worldwide pandemic before, their experience with past disasters as well as their flexibility and dedication helped the health system successfully prepare for – and respond to – one of its biggest challenges of the 21st century.

As COVID-19 began to spread, Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont appointed Marna as a co-chair to his Governor’s Health System Response Team to help lead statewide efforts in battling the historic pandemic. 

“She has been a partner since day one during some of the most trying times our state has ever seen,” Lamont commented in September 2021. “She offered balanced and thoughtful input and helped us most directly at our toughest moments.”

Crisis response through the years

Marna was at the helm when, several years before COVID-19, a rare disease called Ebola sent collective chills across the nation. Ebola is a deadly disease that can spread from person to person through contact with infected blood or body fluids. On Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014, Yale New Haven Hospital’s Emergency Management Office was notified that Connecticut’s first suspected Ebola patient was on the way. 

Marna on the cover of HealthLeaders in 2019.

View larger image >



That phone call launched a monumental effort that involved hundreds of people, including physicians, hospital leaders and staff from numerous departments, along with community leaders, first responders and private contractors. YNHH had been preparing for a possible Ebola patient for months, but the response that night and in the days that followed was described as nothing short of “phenomenal.” 

Ebola was not YNHHS’ nor Marna’s first encounter with a contagious and devastating disease. Several decades before, Yale New Haven responded to the AIDS crisis at the local level, establishing the Yale New Haven Hospital AIDS Care Program in 1984. In 1994, when Marna served as executive vice president and chief operating officer, the hospital awarded nearly $1 million to support community-based HIV/AIDS care agencies in their efforts to provide outpatient medical and social services for individuals with HIV/AIDS.

Long before COVID-19, Yale New Haven Hospital was contending with the HIV and AIDs epidemic in the 1980s. The hospital and Yale School of Medicine were involved in research, treatment and prevention of the diseases, and helped establish community programs for those at risk and affected.;

View larger image >



Other significant challenges Marna and the health system experienced over the years required a different response. In 2015, hospital staff and physicians came together – more than 8,500 strong – to oppose proposed state budget cuts that would have dramatically reduced funding to Connecticut hospitals and negatively impacted patient care.  

Buoyed by support

Today, as COVID-positive patient admissions continue their downward trend, Marna’s leadership through difficult times has been unwavering in a constant sea of change. 

“There are more than 28,000 of us who have been in this YNHHS lifeboat,” Marna wrote in a memo to employees on Dec. 31, 2020. “It’s crowded for sure, but it has stayed afloat because each and every one of you chose to make a difference.”