By Carol Gomes
The pandemic crisis has revealed who we are at Stony Brook Medicine, and we are truly “Stony Brook Strong.”
On Monday, March 2, Stony Brook University Hospital (SBUH) instituted our Hospital Incident Command System (HICS) to manage our response to the pandemic. Today, more than five months later, the system remains in place, operating seven days a week.
It is truly amazing how far we have come. At the height of the pandemic, on April 14, Stony Brook had 359 COVID-positive patients in the hospital. As of last Friday, we had only seven.
Now all our care sites are back in operation, using new safety and cleaning protocols. Our Emergency Departments remain open 24/7 for medical emergencies across Long Island, and we resumed elective procedures at SBUH effective June 1, after meeting state requirements.
From March through Aug. 2, SBUH treated 1,653 COVID-positive inpatients. The four hospitals in the Stony Brook Medicine hospital system formed the backbone of the response across Suffolk County, which had the lowest patient mortality rate across Downstate New York.
To manage the surge in patients, the hospital opened 300 additional inpatient beds, including 180 additional ICU beds. Stony Brook also collaborated with the New York State Department of Health to establish a drive-through coronavirus testing site on Stony Brook University’s campus, testing more than 48,000 people from March through July.
Adjacent to the testing site, Stony Brook set up a Field ER to care for patients referred from the hospital’s main Emergency Department. From March 24 to May 4, the site treated more than 1,885 patients.
Since the pandemic began, our Hospital Purchasing Department has been on top of the issue, scouring the nation and world for supplies. Over a three-month period, we received nearly 10 million gloves, more than 700,000 gowns, more than 750,000 surgical masks, more than 75,000 N95 respirators and nearly 30,000 face shields. We were one of the first hospitals in the nation to reprocess N95 respirators with Battelle Laboratories, with more than 8,000 masks reprocessed for future use if needed.
We know we must remain vigilant, as this pandemic is not yet over, and we face an uncertain future, with a possible second wave, for which we are well prepared. But we also know this much with certainty: we have successfully bent downward the curve of COVID-19 cases across Suffolk County.
Thank you for your continuing efforts to keep the coronavirus in check by following fundamental public health protocols: social distancing, masks and hand hygiene. Together, we will emerge from this pandemic even stronger than before, because together we are “Stony Brook Strong.”
Carol A. Gomes, MS, FACHE, CPHQ, is Chief Executive Officer at Stony Brook University Hospital.