As one of 10 hospitals in New York State designated to care for any potential patients with Ebola, Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) has dedicated its efforts to extensively prepare and train staff.
And a Dec. 17 visit by the Centers for Disease Control has SBUH poised to join the ranks of the 35 hospitals certified nationally to care for Ebola patients.
Stony Brook Medicine already leads nationally in Ebola expertise, thanks to Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr., MD, an infectious disease expert. His lecture “Ebola: Risks of Emerging Infections” has been widely viewed on the University website. Kenneth Kaushansky, MD, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, notes in his web message that this is a landmark time in American public health with the arrival of Ebola.
To prepare for a possible Ebola patient at Stony Brook, a Hospital Task Force is being led by Chief Medical Officer Joseph Laver, MD; Leo DeBobes, Director of Emergency Preparedness; and Susan Donelan, MD, FSHEA, Medical Director of the Healthcare Epidemiology Department. Strong leadership has also come from Bettina Fries, MD, Chief, Division of Infectious Diseases at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, along with Francina Singh, RN, BScN, MPH.
The task force includes clinical experts in emergency medicine, critical care, infectious disease, pathology, general medicine, pediatrics and epidemiology. It meets regularly to review and update Stony Brook’s plan and address its top priority — the health and safety of patients and staff. So far, approximately 350 physicians and staff have been trained to care for Ebola patients.
“Many physician leaders have provided extensive input in how to best care for our patients,” said Dr. Laver, “including Drs. Peter Viccellio, Mohamed Monsour, Gerald Smaldone, Ken Rosenfeld, Eric Spitzer and John Ferretti. The common denominator among all involved has been to focus on what is best for the patient.”
“It has been inspirational to see our medical staff step up to the plate and do what is needed for the benefit of our patients,” he said. “Everyone from the Blood Bank to the Laboratory, to the Emergency Department and the MICU and beyond, should be congratulated for having such a high sense of purpose.
“I am confident that we are prepared for an Ebola patient and lessons learned from our preparations will help us in dealing with any other virus to come.”
Stony Brook Takes Leadership Role In Ebola Training
To ensure a coordinated response, Stony Brook is in constant communication with the State and County Departments of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the other nine New York State-designated hospitals. Collaborations also extend to regional agencies, including the Nassau-Suffolk Hospital Council, Greater New York Hospital Association and Healthcare Association of New York State, as well as participation on a SUNY Task Force to develop and review SUNY-wide policies and actions.
“As Suffolk County’s only university-based medical center, it is our responsibility to be prepared always for any type of potential crisis so that we can protect the communities we serve,” said L. Reuven Pasternak, MD, CEO, Stony Brook University Hospital, and Vice President for Health Systems, Stony Brook Medicine.
Stony Brook is taking a leadership role in training not only its own staff, but also in training other hospitals across New York State. As the concern around Ebola starts to ebb, the focus has shifted to how this exercise has energized the level of preparedness for similar types of events on both an institutional and regional basis.
Stony Brook is building on the collaborative model between Stony Brook Medicine, other institutions and the various levels of health departments in New York State to be able to address any potential public health concern with the same rigor as environmental disasters and mass casualty events. Thus, it is not all about Ebola, but about a heightened preparedness for a long recognized issue.
In addition to conducting numerous internal drills and exercises, Stony Brook University Hospital’s Department of Emergency Management has provided training courses for other hospitals: Brookhaven Memorial Hospital, JT Mather Memorial Hospital, St. Charles Hospital, Eastern Long Island Hospital, Nassau University Medical Center and hospitals in the lower Hudson region. Additional training has been provided for the Town of Brookhaven Fire Marshal’s Office, area fire departments and volunteer ambulance corps.
Thanks to everyone’s efforts, we are well prepared for Ebola. And our staff’s dedication and commitment to providing care for patients in our community is shining through.