SUMMIT, NJ — Overlook Medical Center, part of Atlantic Health System, has discharged its 2,000th inpatient treated for COVID-19 back to recovery, marking a significant milestone after more than a year of the global pandemic.

For Overlook officials, the discharge, which occurred on Tuesday, April 13, helped to highlight the hospital’s journey throughout the pandemic, and its success in providing care and safety to its patients throughout the event.

“Helping thousands of people survive this terrible virus and return to their lives, their homes, their families and loved ones has been our greatest honor,” said Alan Lieber, president of Overlook Medical Center. “This important milestone is a moment to reflect on the experiences of this pandemic, and how they have better positioned us to care for our communities going forward.”

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About one year ago, as the pandemic climbed toward its first and most severe peak, Overlook Medical Center was predominantly where patients in Union County and the surrounding region sought care. Overlook’s proximity to New York City and Newark combined with a reputation for excellence contributed to the overwhelming number of patients seeking care at Overlook.

During the height of the pandemic in Spring 2020, Overlook cared for more than 300 COVID-19 patients, with more than 100 requiring intensive care. On average, Overlook was admitting 35 patients per day.

Overlook was able to transform the hospital in a matter of days, tripling its intensive care capacity to keep ahead of increasing admissions. Patient rooms were modified with medical gases, air filtration technology that reduces airborne viruses and state-of-the-art monitoring and visualization that enabled remote monitoring to reduce staff exposure to COVID-19 and more. Overlook used its 3-D printer to create solutions to emergent challenges that arose.

Overlook’s doctors, nurses and other providers adapted patient care to include added precautions, heightened applications for methods like proning and positioning, and implemented newly developed therapies such as Remdesivir.

For a time, many roles blurred as Overlook team members rolled up their sleeves to do what was needed—from surgeons, cardiologists and hospitalists working twelve-hour shifts supporting intensivists in the intensive care units (ICU), to non-clinical staff serving as temperature takers and in other supportive roles. Every patient—COVID-19-positive or otherwise—was treated safely and with the utmost care.

As New Jersey shifted into recovery over the summer, Overlook enacted a number of safety measures to continue to ensure a safe environment for all patients. 

With great forethought, Overlook used the summer months to prepare for the anticipated fall and winter waves of COVID-19 resurgence. Using space that will become a new inpatient specialty unit as part of the hospital’s ongoing expansion and enhancement project, in the Fall Overlook opened 7 East, a specially designed standalone unit to care for COVID-19-positive patients. The unit is intended to be temporary while the State of New Jersey has declared a health emergency. 

This “super-unit”—which is able to provide acute, intermediate and critical care—features rooms outfitted with custom windows equipped with HEPA filtration.

Incorporating all of the feedback from the care delivery team, the unit was designed to facilitate better patient monitoring and reduce exposure for staff caring for COVID-19-positive patients. Overlook installed large windows in patient room doors and walls, and added audio/video communication and other technological innovations to allow care team members to monitor patients without going into and out of rooms as well as enabling clear communication between those in the room and those outside.

In January 2021, Overlook created dedicated space within its emergency departments in Summit and Union to provide monoclonal antibody treatment for patients who were referred by their primary care physicians. This therapy is used to treat patients with mild-to-moderate symptoms by infusing antibodies to help the patient’s immune system fight the novel coronavirus in order to prevent them from needing hospitalization.

The milestone discharge came just days after Overlook marked the 25,000th dose of COVID-19 vaccine administered at the Summit Community Center, where Overlook has been operating a vaccination center, in partnership with its host community, the City of Summit, since early February. Overlook transformed a gymnasium at the community center to house 14 socially-distanced vaccination bays, operating Monday through Saturday by appointment.

CLICK HERE to learn more about Overlook Medical Center and its services. 

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