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ER on wheels available to assist monster storm Sandy victims

Robin Wulffson MD's picture
monster storm Sandy, MSED, emergency care, disaster victims

While victims of monster storm Sandy are still reeling from its impact, a nor’easter is expected to descend upon them and usher in rain, snow and high winds. In response to Sandy, Hackensack University Medical Center has been deploying its Mobile Satellite Emergency Department (MSED) to locations throughout the state.

It is now preparing to dispatch a team to operate the MSED unit currently stationed at Ocean Medical Center in Brick, NJ (Ocean County) in anticipation of the nor’easter storm, which is forecast to arrive on Wednesday, November 7. The university notes that an operations and medical team of 10 will be deployed on Wednesday evening at 6 p.m. from the main campus in Hackensack.

The mobile ER consists of a total of 15 trucks, including three large ones used as treatment areas. There are also special trucks to produce oxygen and interconnect the vehicles. The university reports that is MSED vehicles are a breakthrough in medicine and cutting-edge technology and are one of only a few mobile hospitals of their kind in the nation; they are funded through a unique partnership with the US Department of Defense. In a 24-hour period, the service, including equipment, personnel and supplies, costs approximately $15,000. The core of the mobile hospital complex exist in the form of a 43-foot semi truck with expandable sides, and are fully outfitted with seven critical care beds each having: monitor defibrillator capability; portable digital X-ray unit; telemedicine capability; portable field laboratory; small pharmaceutical cache; overhead medical procedure lighting; and onboard medical gases. They are rapidly deployable, fully-functional mobile emergency departments.

HackensackUMC’s MSED unit was first deployed to Hillsborough, NJ in Somerset County on Monday, October 29. The team, led by Dr. Joseph Feldman, chairman of the Department of Emergency Services, was charged with providing emergency healthcare to surrounding low-lying communities that were previously cut off from emergency care during Hurricane Irene last year. During their service period, Dr. Herman Morchel and the MSED team delivered a healthy 5 lb., 2 oz., baby boy, Liam Alexander Schleppy, at 11 p.m. as the ambulance that was transporting this new infant’s mother became trapped in mud on its way to the local medical center.

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On November 1, the MSED unit was subsequently deployed to Ocean Medical Center, where it remains on-site. In addition to Ocean Medical Center, HackensackUMC has been working with three local hospitals to supplement care during their time of need: Community Medical Center in Toms River and Kimball Medical Center in Lakewood, both affiliates of Barnabas Health; and Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune.

The Hackensack UMC operations and medical team consists of: an MSED coordinator, three security officers, two physicians, three registered nurses, and one X-ray technician. The team will remain overnight in Brick, and will operate the MSED on Thursday, November 8.

The university announced that, to date, HackensackUMC MSED units have treated nearly 150 patients since its original deployment to Hillsborough, NJ last week. On its main campus, the MSED unit remains outside of the Emergency and Trauma Center, prepared to help supplement care during the storm for medical and social-medical patients.

Reference: Hackensack University Medical Center

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