Scott Solomon routinely travels the Garden State Parkway (GSP), making his way from home in Albany to Washington D.C., where he is a lobbyist.
But on May 13, Scott’s life took an unexpected turn when a car merged into his lane on the GSP causing him to swerve and lose control. The car tumbled about nine times – about 200 feet – and paramedics, firefighters, police and a helicopter were called to the scene. The team from AirMed One arrived and began preparations to transport Scott, who had suffered severe injuries to his face, to the Emergency and Trauma Center at Hackensack University Medical Center.
“When we opened the back door to the ambulance and looked in … I don’t think I have ever seen someone awake looking like that,” said Frank Shay, AirMed One Flight Paramedic at Hackensack University Medical Center. “He was sitting upright, eyes were opened and pretty much from the bridge of the nose all the way down was open and looked like chopped meat, which is the best way I can describe it without being too graphic. Our plan was to put him in the aircraft and take him to Hackensack as quickly as possible.”
But, Scott’s injuries were so severe that paramedics could not lie him down in the helicopter without jeopardizing his ability to breathe. “Scott needed to sit straight up so that he could breathe. Lying him down would have caused the blood to go back into his airway. But the way our aircraft is configured, patients have to lie down initially in order to be placed inside of the helicopter. There was simply no way Scott could have survived the 10-minute flight to Hackensack. We decided the best thing for Scott was to take him by ground, not by air.”
Paramedics notified the Emergency Trauma Center about the patient they were transporting. A trauma code 55 was issued, the highest code. The trauma team, led by Sanjeev Kaul, M.D., chief, and John LoCurto Jr., M.D., FACS, assistant chief of Trauma/Surgical Critical Care and Injury Prevention, was ready and waiting to provide life-saving care to Scott when the ambulance arrived.
Frank Shay recalls, “As soon as we arrived, the trauma team took one look at Scott and said, ‘Let’s get him into the OR.’”
“In all my years, I have never seen anything as devastating and shocking to my mind as this case,” said Dr. Kaul. “This is something different than anyone on my team has ever experienced in their lives. And, any wrong decision or delay could have cost the patient his life.”
“This patient had his face literally almost ripped off, with his tongue severed in the back,” said Dr. LoCurto Jr. “The first step was to open an airway and stabilize the patient. But the patient couldn’t lie flat, which made it very, very difficult. The drug the anesthesiologist chose was Ketamine, which was brilliant. It’s a dissociative drug, so your mind actually disassociates from pain and you can actually operate on someone while they are awake.”
The patient’s lacerated tongue was injected with a local anesthetic so that the tongue could be grasped with an instrument and pulled forward while Scott was still awake and breathing. This allowed visualization of his epiglottis and vocal cords, which facilitated the insertion of the breathing tube directly into his airway. Dr. Kaul says he locked eyes with Scott and reassured him that he and his team were going to help him.
“Immediately, we made the decision to do an emergency tracheostomy,” said Dr. Kaul. “We established a surgical airway on him very quickly. It was a moment of extraordinary elation once we got a breathing tube inside of him and he was stable.” Then the process of reconstructing Scott’s face began.
“This was one of the most severe traumas I had ever seen,” said, Hakan Usal, M.D., chief of the Division of Microsurgery in the Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. “The anatomical structures were all over the place. The jaw was hanging, the nose was missing. The upper jaw was totally detached and teeth were missing. And, there was massive swelling on the patient’s face. We started by doing what we always do – go from known to unknown. We began the process of putting his face back together. Then we kept him intubated and transferred him to the Surgical ICU.”
Added Dr. LoCurto, “We didn’t know how this was going to turn out. We knew we had done everything possible for this patient. At that point, all we could do was wait.” One week later, Scott woke up.
“I could feel the stitches on my face,” recalls Scott. “I just remember my family, the doctors and the nurses standing there. They were all telling me how happy and amazed they were that I survived such a horrible accident.”
“He had the energy and willpower to get better,” said Frank Shay. “He could have easily said that day, ‘I’m done.’ And I’ve seen plenty of patients do that. But he had the drive and the fight to get through this ordeal. And to get to where he is now, he is amazing.” Scott spent nearly three weeks at the medical center. During Scott’s recovery, the doctors and nurses got to know him and his family well.
“Scott’s tough,” said Dr. LoCurto. “He had a lot of good, family support, which helped him get through this.”
“I show people the pictures and they ask me, where did you go? I tell them ‘Hackensack, the number one hospital in New Jersey,’ said Scott. “The job they did was incredible. I know everyone said I was extremely lucky to survive the accident. But I was lucky that the accident happened where it did, so that I could be transported to Hackensack for treatment.”
“The spirit of teamwork is what defines the trauma team at Hackensack University Medical Center. And the extraordinary relationship we have with each other is what make this very unique and special.”
Today, Scott is back to his career as a lobbyist and his favorite past-time, golf. He’s had three surgeries since his accident. But Scott says this near-fatal experience has taught him a lot about life. “My whole perspective on life has changed. I don’t take anything for granted. Everything is a blessing. Every day is a great day.”
It has been an honor and a privilege this past year to serve as president of Hackensack University Medical Center. Hackensack University Medical Center has focused on being human-centric, quality-oriented, academic, innovative and financially stable. I can honestly say our team has risen to this challenge providing world-class care, outreach, education and resources to our community.
Hackensack University Medical Center continues to be rated the number one hospital in New Jersey, according to U.S. News & World Report. We are now able to provide the highest-quality specialized care, expanding our footprint across the entire state as a member of the Hackensack Meridian Health family. Hackensack University Medical Center boasts 25 Gold Seals of Approval from The Joint Commission, which is the most any hospital has received in the nation. Along with these clinical honors, Becker’s Hospital Review has ranked us among the Great Places to Work in Healthcare.
We look forward to the upcoming Seton Hall – Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, as many on our team will be a part of the faculty and continue the academic tradition of Hackensack University Medical Center. Our highly trained team is not only at the forefront of care, but is also a part of teaching the health care team of the future.
Hackensack University Medical Center continues to find new ways to stay innovative and on the frontline with strategic partnerships, new technology and research opportunities. We also continue to promote environmental awareness, sustainability and our reputation as a “green” hospital in receiving the Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Award for the third consecutive year. Also, for the third consecutive year, we were designated a leader in LGBTQ HEI.
During 2016, we solidified our strong financial foundation, reflected in our best financial year in the hospital’s history and Moody’s recent upgrade of our debt rating to A2, joining an A+ rating from Standard & Poor’s. We have invested heavily in new facilities and new medical technology as evidenced by our upcoming plans for the construction of a state-of-the-art patient pavilion.
Sticking to the qualities of human-centered, quality-oriented, academic, innovative and financially stable care, we will continue our proud reputation as one of the top hospitals in the nation.
Ihor Sawczuk, M.D.
Hackensack University Medical Center
Hackensack University Medical Center marks its most successful financial year in the history of the medical center, achieving a net operating margin of $90.1 million. It was another record year for revenue, eclipsing $1.7 billion for the first time, or $93 million more than the prior year.
The HackensackUMC Foundation exceeded organizational goals, raising more than $33 million in 2016. The Foundation’s philanthropic initiatives, including the creation and development of the Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, along with the support of Tackle Kids Cancer and other key programs to benefit patients, offer opportunities to make a meaningful difference.
With Lincoln Center as the backdrop and Sting as the headline entertainment, the HackensackUMC Foundation’s 23rd Annual Recognition Gala made extraordinary memories and set a fundraising record. The 2016 Gala was the most successful to date, raising $4 million to support pediatric cancer research and the Regenerative Medicine Institute at Hackensack University Medical Center.
Putting Human Rights First
Hackensack University Medical Center is proud to be among health care facilities nationwide – and the only one in Bergen County – to be recognized as a “Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation. The HRC is the educational arm of the country’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization. For a second year, we earned top marks in meeting criteria demonstrating its commitment to equitable, inclusive care for LGBT patients and their families.
Making Local and National Headlines
Partnering with U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Hackensack University Medical Center hosted the Zika Virus Preparedness Summit, with a goal of raising awareness and promoting prevention. Elected officials and health care leaders, including a representative from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mobilized with Hackensack University Medical Center physicians to address this issue in a substantive way.
Hackensack University Medical Center accepted the White House call to action to advance President Barack Obama’s Precision Medicine Initiative. The medical center joined this groundbreaking initiative to transform patient care by harnessing the power of information technology. Hackensack became a member of this select group based on its strength in health care information technology, early adoption and advancement of interoperability standards, and its strong commitment to patient experience.
The Highest Quality Care
Hackensack University Medical Center achieved an important distinction in 2016 as the recipient of 25 Gold Seals of Approval™ by The Joint Commission. This remarkable achievement is of particular note because we were selected for more Gold Seals of Approval™ than any other hospital in the country.
Ihor Sawczuk, M.D.
Dianne Aroh, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC
Executive Vice President, Chief Clinical and Patient Care Officer
Jason Kreitner, FACHE
Vice President of Operations
Mark D. Sparta, FACHE
Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer
Carol L. Barsky, M.D., MBA
Senior Vice President, Chief Quality Officer
Vice President of Facilities, Capital Construction & Campus Development
Vice President of Finance (Contingent Worker)
Vice President of Supply Chain, Charge Master, Decision Support & Budget
Vice President of Institutional Campaigns
Vice President, Chief Compliance Officer
Terri Freguletti, RN
Vice President of Perioperative Services/Capacity Management
Vice President, Senior Revenue Cycle Officer
Chief of Staff
Kunle Modupe, MS
Vice President of Hospitality Services
Sharad Sahu, M.D.
Vice President of Clinical Integration
Vice President of Development Principal Giving for HackensackUMC Foundation
Medical Staff Leadership
Thomas L. Salazer, M.D.
Hormoz Ashtyani Asl, M.D.
Deborah Anne Marie Goss, M.D.
Sarah L. Timmapuri, M.D.
Sarita Rastogi, M.D.