Jul 1, 2020: Michael Fosina, President of NewYork Presbyterian-Lawrence Hospital and SVP of NewYork Presbyterian in New York, took on his role at NYP-Lawrence in 2015. Since then, he has lead the hospital through its transition from a stand-alone hospital to a fully integrated hospital within the NY Presbyterian network.
Bronxville resident Dr. George A. (Jack) Cioffi is Ophthalmologist-in-Chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and President of ColumbiaDoctors,the faculty medical practice of Columbia University Medical Center that includes more than 1,700 physicians, dentists, and nurses and is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian.
The challenge of COVID-19 was like nothing either man had ever experienced and NYP-Lawrence Hospital had to act quickly. In fourteen days, NYP-Lawrence had to double its ICU capacity and redeploy 1,200 healthcare professionals to new COVID-related jobs. Cioffi became co-chair of the redeployment of staff needed to treat patients at NYP-Lawrence.
"There was no playbook," says Cioffi. "I called on the chairs of 18 departments within NYP, and not one person said no when I asked them to come," he said, "it was a call to arms ." He also talks about the "esprit de corps" among the doctors and nurses in these new roles. "The teamwork was incredible. The staff will remember who they worked with during this crisis for the rest of their lives."
Fosina added, "during the height of the crisis, I thought about it 24 hours a day, 7 days a week."
One of the enormous benefits NYP-Lawrence had during the height of the COVID-19 crisis in New York was being part of one of the world's best hospital systems. The physicians at NYP-Lawrence had virtual meetings every night with their counterparts at the other NYP hospitals. During these meetings, they shared information, data, testing practices, treatment information, and more. Together they created best practices.
"We utilize the same protocols as NYP in the city," says Fosina. He further noted that as treatments arise, the hospital examines them across the NYP system and that NYP is involved in every major trial.
Fosina expressed his heartfelt thanks to the Bronxville community for their support over the past few months. "There is a lobby full of pictures, notes, and messages. People donated gifts. Restaurants donated food. Cars drove by and honked. It was a big deal," said Fosina. "This support was so great for morale."
Today there are only a handful of COVID-19 cases at NYP-Lawrence Hospital, and each patient is in an isolation room. The hospital doctors and nurses "know how to tend to those in isolation," says Fosina, "there is non-existant hospital spread."
With COVID-19 cases down, NYP Lawrence and Columbia Doctors are now back to their traditional services. Both Fosina and Cioffi are urging people who have been putting off doctor visits to go back to their doctors and, if needed, to the hospital. "It's safe to go back," says Fosina.
There are now new procedures for doctor visits. Telemedicine, for one, is here to stay. "One-third of outpatient visits are telemedicine visits," says Cioffi. He noted that the hospital has had the telemedicine platform for years, but there were less than 100 televisits per day. Today, they are about 2,000 per day.
The old waiting room filled to capacity with patients is right now a thing of the past. Patients now pre-register from home, pay the co-pay online, and wait in the parking lot until called up for their visit.
Right now, the number of cases in New York is down but it's possible there could be a "second wave" in New York. Fosina and Cioffi both say that, should that occur, NYP-Lawrence Hospital is much better prepared.
The hospital has PPE, and knows how to build capacity, test, and isolate. "We have best practices," says Fosina.
Cioffi adds, "we won't be starting from the ground up."
"Until we have a vaccine, we will be dealing with COVID-19," says Fosina.
He and Cioffi advised everyone to continue to be vigilant and follow CDC Guidelines. Wear a mask. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands frequently.
If you have symptoms, call your doctor. You can also call a doctor within the Columbia Doctors network. If you have no symptoms but want to be tested, call your primary care physician. You can also use the NYP OnDemand App. Click here to go to the NY State site for more information on testing.
Pictured in rotation: Michael Fosina and Dr. Cioffi
Photos courtesy NYP-Lawrence Hospital