It was anything but business as usual recently at HackensackUMC Mountainside in Glen Ridge when physicians and staff jumped into action to respond to a serious, but fictional, crisis.
The scenario — a massive local outbreak of a SARS-like virus — was conceived by emergency management officials in Newark who enlist the participation of all Essex County hospitals in a coordinated drill each year.
The exercise unfolded with Joseph Patanella, Assistant Operating Officer, who also served as the hospital’s Incident Command Officer for the drill, mobilizing a designated team of representatives from diverse departments as an influx of patients, portrayed by students from the HackensackUMC Mountainside School of Nursing, presented with serious flu-like symptoms.
Medical response was coordinated by Dr. Marjory Langer, Director of Emergency Medicine who directed residents, nurses and aides in the treatment of a high volume of patients under extreme conditions.
The participation of local police, fire and EMS officials contributed to the authenticity of the drill and helped to ensure that municipal government and the hospital would have a coordinated, seamless response plan in the event of an actual emergency.
“These drills challenge us, hone our skills and reaffirm our readiness to react to any type of public health crisis,” said Patanella. “We welcome the opportunity to participate and take them very seriously.”