EMBA alumni are among healthcare workers battling Covid-19

In a social media campaign called #RBSAlumniRiseUp, Rutgers Business School will be showcasing alumni who are working on the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus. To see posts about other alumni, follow Rutgers Business School’s Instagram accounts: @rutgersBSchool, @ru_business, and @RBSC3.

Name: Josh Bershad

Program: Completed his Rutgers Executive MBA in 2006

What he does: Executive vice president, Physician Services, Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health Medical Group (RWJ Barnabas Health Medical Group); clinical assistant professor, Rutgers University; and chief medical officer, Rutgers University Athletics.

His role in the fight against Covid-19: “My role has been to lead the response effort for the Robert Wood Johnson Barnabas Health Medical Group, which entails making sure that our patients get the best care during the pandemic while we protect everyone in the hospital and help reduce the spread.” 

EMBA Alumnus Josh Bershad

On the frontline: “It has been a challenging time. There is a lot of rapid decision-making with incomplete information. We have to be very fluid with the response because situations change literally by the hour.” 

How crisis mode changes things: “We are currently working with the Incident Command System (ICS) and the National Incident Management System (NIMS). That is how the federal government handles all disaster response. We are running the medical group under the command system where there are designated roles and you change around the functioning to make decisions in a rapid fashion. There are training classes on the Incident Command System, which I had been through on the hospital side of things. I am operating under the title of incident commander. In that role, we get the best information available and make a decision in the timeframe that it needs to be made.”

What he gained from Rutgers: “I have a tremendous amount of pride in being a graduate of Rutgers both from a graduate medical perspective and business perspective. I learned how to be a leader and how to think about situations from multiple angles while getting insight from others.”

His shout out: “I would like acknowledge the heroic efforts of so many people who never expected to be at the front lines, people at the supermarket and truck warehouses, the food service industry, the people in food production. We should be proud of all the people who have stepped up to deliver. There are a lot of people who are working in healthcare who are Rutgers graduates. I am also really proud of Rutgers at this time. The university has been at the forefront of delivering innovations in the treatment and diagnostics of this virus.”      

Like Bershad, George Safran is among the alumni of the Rutgers EMBA program who work in healthcare and find themselves now in the middle of an effort to treat the overwhelming number of victims in the coronavirus pandemic.

Name: George Safran

RBS Connection: Completed the Executive MBA Program in 2000.  

Job Title: Emergency Room Physician

Where he works: Hoboken University Medical Center

What it’s been like on the battlefield: “I am a front-line ER doc. What you see on TV and read in the news is pretty much accurate. Hospital and emergency departments are being overwhelmed by the number of patients coming in specifically for Covid-19. We expected a surge, but probably 90 percent or more are related to Covid-19. There is very little else that is coming in. The infected are all really sick with respiratory issues. We are not experts on this. Everything is evolving in recognition of symptoms and treatments.”   

Rutgers EMBA alumnus George Safran

On the shortages: “The standard is using an N95 mask. It filters 95 percent of the microbial particles for the provider. A mask is supposed to be used one per patient, but there is an insufficient number of masks to be able to do that. As a result, we wear one per shift if we are lucky to have one at the beginning of the shift. It is kind of hard to fathom. Prior to this, when in our country did we ever think that there would be a shortage of vital things? We lived with an excess of everything. Trying to come to grips that we do not have enough in terms of medications and equipment is beyond comprehension for any of us.”   

What it means to be an RBS alumni: “I keep in touch with Farrokh (Langdana) periodically. He recently emailed alumni about the availability of local, alternative supply chains that could provide some PPE materials. He was able to connect us, and we have gotten some donations, equipment and masks through this. The Rutgers Business School family is tremendously important. Never has it been truer than it is now.”

His message for others: “The only way we are going to get back to any sort of normal semblance of life is for people to stay at home and stay away from each other so the virus does not continue to spread.”






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