A portable hospital-on-wheels is being deployed at the Meadowlands sport complex for the Feb. 2 Super Bowl by Hackensack University Medical Center and staffed by its emergency room physicians and nurses.
HackensackUMC's Mobile Satellite Emergency Department, whose core occupies a 43-foot semi truck with expandable sides, arrives for Game Day with seven critical care beds and is equipped with digital X-ray, surgical lighting, telemedicine, laboratory and medication.
After the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, HackensackUMC received multi-million dollar federal funding from the Department of Defense and Urban Area Security Initiative to develop a prototype for the first-ever Mobile Satellite Emergency Department, which now includes an operating room on wheels.
In 2007 HackensackUMC received the MSED and since then has kept it stored and ready for deployment on short notice in the event of a crisis---most recently the devastating 2012 storm Sandy.
Robert C. Garrett, chief executive of the Hackensack University Health Network, said the MSED was deployed extensively after Sandy, when it became the emergency room for hospitals flooded out by Sandy, including Ocean Medical Center in Brick and Jersey City Medical Center; it was also sent to Long Island.
HackensackUMC is one of three medical centers, and the only one in New Jersey, selected as an Official Medical Services Provider by the 2014 Super Bowl Host Committee. The others are New York Presbyterian and the Hospital for Special Surgery. HackensackUMC is the closest trauma center to MetLife Stadium.
Garrett said when the host committee found out about the MSED "they were all over it and said if there was a way we would deploy it and work out the logistics, it would be a tremendous asset."
The Super Bowl is considered a potential terrorist target and "We are prepared for the worst," Garrett said. "This will be a tremendous asset to bring medical care right to patients" while avoiding "the traffic nightmare that would occur to get ambulances in and out" of the sports complex.
Garrett said following the initial federal funding, the cost of the MSED has been taken over by HackensackUMC. He said it costs the hospital about $1 million a year to maintain and house the MSED, train the staff and keep the equipment updated.
He said Hackensack will propose to the New Jersey Hospital Association that a consortium of the state's hospitals contribute to the operating costs of the MSED, "since this is a statewide asset and every hospital theoretically could benefit from it, as we saw during Sandy." He estimated that the contribution from each hospital would be about $15,000 a year, with Hackensack continuing to staff and manage the facility.