As nor'easter heads toward battered NJ, HackensackUMC again readies satellite ED

By Mike Miliard
11:04 AM

Having already deployed it last week in response to Hurricane Sandy, Hackensack University Medical Center is again readying its mobile satellite emergency department (MSED) to serve locations throughout New Jersey as a nor'easter bears down on the state.

Currently stationed at Ocean Medical Center in Brick, N.J., the hospital is now preparing to dispatch the MSED unit in anticipation of a possible nor'easter on Wednesday; an operations and medical team of 10 will head out this evening from the main campus in Hackensack, officials say.

The MSED unit was first deployed to Hillsborough, N.J. on Monday, Oct. 29. The team, led by Joseph Feldman, MD, 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.

It wasn't long before the mobile unit proved its worth, officials say. When an ambulance that was transporting a mother in labor became trapped in mud on its way to the local medical center, hospital officials say the MSED team, led by Herman Morchel, MD, was able to deliver a healthy 5 lb., 2 oz., baby boy.

The MSED vehicles are among just a few mobile hospitals of their kind in the nation, officials say. Funded through a unique partnership with the U.S. Department of Defense. The core of the mobile hospital complex exists 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.

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

To date, HackensackUMC MSED units have treated nearly 150 patients since its original deployment to Hillsborough, N.J. last week, officials say. On its main campus, the MSED unit remains outside the Emergency and Trauma Center, prepared to help supplement care during the storm for medical and social-medical patients.

HackensackUMC will work with the New Jersey Department of Health to re-evaluate the needs of the state on Thursday afternoon to determine the necessity of deployment continuation, officials say.