When Dr. Ramy Yakobi first toured the Emergency Department at Saint Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, he was immediately struck by how different it was from the New York City emergency rooms where he worked his entire career.
“This is the most beautiful emergency room that that I have ever seen,” said Yakobi, who was recently named the new chair of the Emergency Department at Saint Michael’s. “It’s modern, spacious, clean well equipped and the rooms are big enough not only for the patients, but for their families as well.”
Saint Michael’s Emergency Department was upgraded and expanded during a major renovation of the hospital about six years ago. Saint Michael’s, a 358-bed hospital in located in the heart of Newark’s business and academic community, was sold in May 2016 to Prime Healthcare, one of the nation’s leading health care systems with 45 hospitals in 14 states.
“We are thrilled to have someone of Dr. Yakobi’s stature and experience lead our Emergency Department,” said Dr. Claudia Komer, the chief medical officer at Saint Michael’s. “We are confident that Dr. Yakobi will ensure we continue to provide the highest quality of care in our Emergency Department while working to further reduce our already short wait times.”
Dr. Yakobi, who started his medical studies while he was still living in the former Soviet Union, completed his degree at the University of Padua in 1991. With the collapse of the Soviet Union complete in December 1991, Dr. Yakobi opted to come to America with many of the other emigrants from the former Soviet Union.
Dr. Yakobi, who speaks Russian, Georgian, Italian, Hebrew as well as English, landed in New York City and did his first residency in internal medicine at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn. But he found that he was attracted to emergency medicine.
“In the emergency room, you don’t have to specialize in any one area of medicine,” he said. “As a specialist in emergency medicine, you see everything everything from toe pain to a heart attack.”
In 1993, Dr. Yakobi began a three-year residency in emergency medicine at Metropolitan Hospital Center in East Harlem. After his residency, he became an attending physician at New York- Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, where he worked until 2007. During that time, he also earned a master’s in business administration from the University of Tennessee.
Dr. Yakobi landed the top job of a Director in the Emergency Department at Beth Israel Medical Center’s Brooklyn campus in the Midwood neighborhood, a community similar to Newark. Yakobi said he decided to leave in 2014 shortly after Beth Israel’s parent company merged with Mount Sinai Medical Center.
For the last three years, he has been the vice chair and director of operations of the Emergency Department at The Brooklyn Medical Center in downtown Brooklyn.
Dr. Yakobi said he jumped at the opportunity to work at Saint Michael’s, especially because it is a perfect combination of teaching institution and a community-oriented hospital that offers tertiary services such as cardiac care. Dr. Yakobi was an instructor for more than a decade while he was at Cornell, earning the title of assistant clinical professor.
“There are many aspects of the job at Saint Michael’s that I did when I was a director at Beth Israel,” he said. “It’s definitely more challenging and interesting. My skills are very much in administration, plus I am excited about the teaching opportunities.”
Saint Michael’s, which is affiliated with New York Medical College, offers residencies in internal medicine, with subspecialties in cardiology, gastroenterology, hematology/oncology, nephrology, pulmonary, infectious disease, endocrinology, rheumatology, radiology, anesthesiology, gynecology, neurology and geriatrics. Residents rotate through the Emergency Department for a portion of their training.
While Saint Michael’s already has among the lowest wait times in the Greater Newark area, Dr. Yakobi said he plans to continue working to ensure the Emergency Department has lean processes with no obstacles that will further reduce wait times.
Dr. Yakobi said he is also interested in seeking Geriatric Emergency Department accreditation from the American College of Emergency Physicians and participating in a nursing education program offered through Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders (NICHE).
“To be accredited, we have to make sure the rooms are senior friendly, signage will be bigger, we will have specialized beds to decrease the fall rate, floors will be special to avoid slipping,” he said. “We’re going to have protocols that are designed for the elderly people to screen for depression and elderly abuse.”
Dr. Yakobi said he is also interested in working more closely with the EMS community.
“We want to partner with our EMS and offer them continuous medical education that will definitely create a better working relationship with our department,” he said. “It will give us an opportunity to teach them so they know what to do in the field, what is the information that we would like them to get from the field. It’s a lot of things they already studied, but the value of continuous medical education is that you don’t forget what you learned.”