Early one morning last June, Emer Featherstone felt uncharacteristically lethargic and short of breath. An active 81-year-old gardener extraordinaire who operates her own accounting business, Emer thought she was just tired and rested on her couch. Soon after, a friend of Emer’s stopped by, took one look at her and called 911.
An ambulance took her to Mountainside Medical Center, part of Hackensack Meridian Health. Emer was examined by the Emergency Department team and then admitted to the hospital, where she was examined by cardiologists Ankitkumar Patel, M.D., MPH, FACC, and Dusan Knezevic, M.D., FACC. She underwent cardiac catheterization completely through her arm (radial artery and brachial vein approach) and transesophageal echocardiography. Test results showed that her mitral valve, which ensures that blood flows through the heart, was in need of repair.
“I had no heart problems prior to this episode, but the doctors said that my mitral valve was damaged and I was getting only about half as much oxygen as I needed,” she says. Emer had surgery scheduled for the following week.
Surgical Intervention Needed Fast
All was well until Emer experienced difficulty breathing again a few days later. She returned to Mountainside, where Drs. Knezevic and Patel determined that her mitral valve had deteriorated further and had her urgently transferred to Hackensack University Medical Center for specialty surgical care.
The next day, cardiothoracic surgeon Mark Anderson, M.D., FACS, a nationally recognized expert in minimally invasive heart surgery, delicately repaired Emer’s mitral valve. First, he made several small holes in her chest, where he inserted catheters. He then threaded a tiny camera and slender surgical tools through to reach and repair her mitral valve. The surgery enabled Emer’s heart to pump blood more efficiently almost immediately.
“With major advances in minimally invasive surgery, we can repair or even replace the mitral valve with less blood, less trauma and reduced recovery time than in traditional open surgery,” says Dr. Anderson.
Emer recovered in the Intensive Care Unit for two days before being transferred to a cardiac unit for a few more days of observation. She was struck by the efficiency and compassion of the cardiac staff.
“The care was consistently amazing,” says Emer. “I was astonished at how well-trained the staff was and so impressed with the level of attention from every one of them.”
Back To Her Regular Routine
Emer returned to her home with her daughter’s assistance. Three weeks after her surgery, she felt well enough to delve back into her accounting business.
“I believe that I recovered quickly because of how well I was treated at Hackensack,”
Emer says. “Before surgery, family and friends encouraged me to go to New York City for treatment, but I did my research and chose Hackensack because it came very highly recommended.” Emer’s follow-up care is orchestrated by Drs. Patel and Knezevic. Her mitral valve function is assessed regularly, and she visits Mountainside for cardiac rehabilitation to keep her heart in shape.
“Coordination of care is part of our multidisciplinary approach at Hackensack Meridian Health’s network of hospitals,” says Dr. Patel, medical director of Mountainside’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and associate director of the Structural and Congenital Heart Center at Hackensack. “Ensuring a smooth flow of services is important to patients like Emer, who want the latest advances and convenience as well as medical expertise.”
With her mitral valve repaired and her heart working splendidly, Emer was glad to get back to feeling like herself again, tending to her prize-winning garden.
“I am beholden to Hackensack for everything they did for me,” Emer says. “They got me back to my life and my garden, and for that, I am very grateful.”
It is my privilege to serve both as a leader and as a member of this caring community. With a shared mission to provide the highest quality, human-centered care, our team members go above and beyond every day on behalf of our patients, their families and each other.
We were proud to be recognized once again by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation for providing quality care to the LGBTQ community, receiving a perfect score in the Healthcare Equality Index survey for policies and practices dedicated to equality and inclusion.
We remain committed to sustainability, mindful of our responsibility as a health care provider to protect natural resources, with recognitions, including: One of America’s Greenest Hospitals by Becker’s Hospital Review; one of the Top 25 Green Hospitals in the country, according to Practice Greenhealth; a Champion of Good Works by the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey for supporting and advancing environmental conversation; and the Governor’s Environmental Excellence recognition with a Healthy and Sustainable Business Award.
I am looking ahead with excitement and anticipation to the months ahead. We are meaningfully engaged in the development of the Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University. Our plans are also taking shape for the Second Street Patient Pavilion, which will provide patients and their families with world-class acute care, while enhancing comfort and privacy. From every angle, this project is about cooperation and collaboration. The result will be a transformation that will help to model and define the future of health care.
As I look back on the year that was and ahead to the year that will be, I am motivated and inspired by the commitment and camaraderie that is apparent in every corner of our campus.
I am grateful for the strength we draw and the collaborative opportunities we share as a member of the Hackensack Meridian Health family. I am proud of the work we do together to serve our communities.
Ihor S. Sawczuk, M.D., president of Hackensack University Medical Center
Hackensack University Medical Center was part of a select group of hospitals involved in Project SEARCH, a one-year, business-led internship program for students with disabilities in their final year of high school. A collaborative partnership between business, education, workforce and government agencies, vocational rehabilitation, community rehabilitation providers, long-term support agencies and families, Project SEARCH provides students who want to work with a chance to explore careers and develop job skills.
Through instruction and immersion in the workplace, young adults with disabilities are well prepared to make successful transitions from school to work. Some student interns have accepted jobs on the medical center campus in Patient Transport, Food and Nutrition and at the Medical Plaza in Endoscopy. Others found placements at Amazon, Stop & Stop, Friendship House and Brookdale Senior Living. Many hires happen quickly as Project SEARCH team members and students set a goal of 100 percent placement.
Project SEARCH is one of the largest job training programs in the nation for students with disabilities. In Bergen County, the program is coordinated by the Bergen County Workforce Development Board. Hackensack University Medical Center is one of two sites in the county.
Operation Hackensack S.M.A.R.T.
Hackensack University Medical Center and the United States Army Reserve joined forces for Operation Hackensack S.M.A.R.T. (Strategic Medical Asset Readiness Training), a first-of-its-kind partnership which focused on high-quality, individualized specialty medical training for service members to improve their knowledge and skill sets, and increase soldier readiness.
Operation Hackensack S.M.A.R.T. integrated interactive observation training specific to jobs soldiers perform in their military capacity. These soldiers partnered with civilian counterparts at Hackensack University Medical Center for immersion training utilizing cutting-edge technology, at no additional cost to the government.
This innovative relationship contributed to superior readiness and in-depth training within the medical ranks. It also provided critical knowledge sharing between military and civilian medical professionals about best practices, techniques, and procedures to ensure military service members are trained to use the most current technology in a rapidly changing health care landscape.
Hackensack University Medical Center and Jersey Shore University Medical Center now offer an innovative treatment of carotid artery disease that dramatically reduces the risk of stroke in patients with blocked carotid arteries, the major blood vessels that deliver blood to the brain. The minimally invasive procedure, called TransCarotid Artery Revascularization (TCAR), employs a new FDA-approved neuroprotection system that temporarily reverses blood flow in the artery during the procedure to prevent dangerous plaque from traveling to the brain and causing a stroke.
Prior to TCAR, the main treatment option for severe carotid artery disease was a surgical procedure called carotid endarterectomy. While this technique protects the brain during the procedure, the large incision leaves a visible and lengthy scar across the neck and carries risks of surgical complications including bleeding, infection, heart attack, and cranial nerve injuries that can cause issues with swallowing, speaking, and sensation in the face.
TCAR is a state-of-the-art procedure that blends the advantages of traditional carotid endarterectomy and stenting. This procedure requires a small incision point in the neck (near the collar bone) and another small incision point in the groin. TCAR is less invasive, reduces the risk of stroke, and has a quick recovery, with most patients going home in less than 24 hours.
Celebrating Life and Liberty
John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center marked its largest and most successful Celebrating Life and Liberty event at MetLife Stadium. More than 4,000 patients, caregivers and team members joined in the 9th annual event, which has grown since its inception from a few hundred participants.
Over the years, in addition to survivors sharing their stories in song, poetry, prose and performance, professional artists have energized and inspired those who join together with stories of hope and survival. The event brings together people of all walks of life.
This year’s Celebrating Life and Liberty event included a performance by Mike DelGuidice & Big Shot, Celebrating the music of Billy Joel. The day also included speeches as well as football-themed activities, face painting, and caricatures. More than 15 local and national cancer advocacy groups donated their time and resources to educate patients about networking, support and cutting-edge research.
Ihor S. Sawczuk, M.D., FACs
Dianne Aroh, MS, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC
Executive Vice President, Chief Clinical and Patient Care Officer
Mark D. Sparta, FACHE
Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer
Executive Vice President, Population Health Clinical Operations
Chief of Staff
Jeffrey R. Boscamp, M.D.
Senior Vice President, Chief Academic Officer
Carol L. Barsky, M.D., MBA
Senior Vice President, Chief Quality Officer
James De Rosa
President of Finance, Acute Care Services
Vice President, Senior Operations Officer, Children’s Enterprise
Vice President of Facilities, Capital Construction & Campus Development
Terri Freguletti, RN
Vice President, Perioperative Services
Jason Kreitner, FACHE
Vice President, Senior Operations Officer
Vice President, John Theurer Cancer Center
Director, Corporate Compliance
Morey Menacker, D.O.
Vice President, Specialty Care and Care Transitions, Physician Services Division
Kunle Modupe, MS
Vice President, Hospitality Services
Loretta Orlando, Esq. RN
Associate General Counsel
Sharad Sahu, M.D.
Vice President, Regional Clinical Integration
Lisa Tank, M.D., FACP
Vice President, Chief Medical Officer
Vice President, Development Principal Giving
Medical/Dental Staff Leadership
Thomas Salazer, M.D.
Sarah Timmapuri, M.D.
George Ferrone, M.D.
Deborah Goss, M.D.
Sanjeev Kaul, M.D.
Sarita Rastogi, M.D.
Immediate Past President