University Hospital partnership aims to lead COVID-19 surge response

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New Jersey State Police, Office of Emergency Management, and National Guard set up a field medical station at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus on Monday March 30 and 31st, 2020. (Edwin J. Torres for Governor’s Office).
Urban News Staff Reports

Epic is a healthcare software company, University Hospital is New Jersey’s state hospital and Level I Trauma Center, and Meadowlands is now Secaucus Federal Medical Station.

Epic provided a plan and staffed a team with experience from other surge installs around the country. In the midst of caring for a growing number of patients with COVID-19 within their own organization, University Hospital staff outfitted the new facility. Epic is donating software and services to the effort.

“Governor Murphy directed health systems across the state to work together to create more beds
for patients,” said Richard Tunnell, CIO of University Hospital. “Epic provided us with their
roadmap and expertise. Now, a few days later, we have a new healthcare facility up and running.”

New Jersey has become a COVID-19 ‘hot spot’ and needs thousands of additional beds to meet
demand. The new facility is located near several hospitals using Epic’s software and just across
the Hudson River from central Manhattan, where beds are in critically short supply. It provides
space to treat lower-acuity patients and is also equipped to care for patients with milder cases of
COVID-19, freeing up resources in regional intensive care units.

Meadowlands Exposition Center
in Secaucus
 (Edwin J. Torres for Governor’s Office)
Over three days, University Hospital and Epic built a system to register, admit, and discharge patients. Epic’s interoperability can automatically query other healthcare organizations to bring patient data to the new facility.

On Wednesday last week, the fourth day of the project, the first patients were admitted. In addition to operating the new facility, University Hospital will serve as the regional coordinator for the northern part of the state at the request of the New Jersey Department of Health and will coordinate the transfer of patients between “brick-and-mortar” hospitals and the field station.

“We hope that the need for facilities like these is short-lived as we work together to slow the spread of the virus,” said Eric Helsher, the Epic lead for both the Secaucus Federal Medical Station effort and the nearby field hospital at Manhattan’s Javits Center. “But as long as this kind of
facility is necessary, we’re standing them up in a matter of days.”

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