Dr. Hillary Cohen, the new chief of emergency medicine at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, brings a global perspective to her new role leading emergency care at the Bergen County hospital.A consultant to the World Health Organization, Cohen worked with the IMAI Alliance, a WHO partner organization, to develop a course on the management of septic shock that is now being used in the pre-deployment training of health care workers in Africa’s Ebola treatment units.
Cohen said one lesson from the Ebola epidemic is: “We are really going to be continuously challenged with emerging infectious diseases, and the world is becoming a smaller and smaller place. I think it’s very clear that what happens in Africa directly affects people all over the world.”
She said the good news for New Jersey is that “Englewood and other hospitals in the tri-state area have done a remarkable job of preparing to deal with the threat of Ebola.” And that Ebola preparedness work “is going to be very beneficial going forward for how we will deal with emerging infectious diseases that we are going to continue to be faced with.”
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Right now, Cohen is coping with a familiar public health challenge in New Jersey: Flu season was in full swing as she stepped into her new job last week.
“We are really seeing a surge of flu,” she said. “Many patients are at home with the flu and doing what they need to do — resting and taking medication. But other patients have to come to the hospital and get admitted.”
She said Englewood is “very well prepared to deal with this. It is something that has been anticipated and been planned for, and the hospital is doing a remarkable job of mobilizing resources to make sure we are prepared to take care of these patients.”
She said several patients a day are being admitted to the hospital with the flu.
Cohen is in charge of the hospital’s 35,000-square-foot emergency department, which treats about 48,000 patients a year. The ED was renovated in 2009 and has 40 private rooms.
Cohen came to Englewood from Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, where she served as vice chairman for clinical operations. Before joining Maimonides in 2008, she held clinical appointments in the emergency medicine departments at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center and Saint Vincent’s Catholic Medical Center.
Cohen attended medical school at the University of Michigan, and did her emergency medicine residency at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. She has a master’s of public health from Columbia University, where she also completed a fellowship in international emergency medicine.
Cohen said the Englewood ED has been designed with a physical layout aimed at creating a facility “that is the most efficient way to provide patients with the best experience, and to maximize patient privacy.”
A major public health initiative, in New Jersey and nationwide, is to encourage patients with nonacute ailments to get care from doctors in the community, and use the hospital ED for true emergencies.
Cohen said what Englewood is seeing is “the patients coming in are sicker — we are seeing more complicated cases,” and she said that is in line with trends around the country.
She said about 24 percent of Englewood’s ED patients are admitted to the hospital, “which is a fairly high admission rate and it reflects the acuity of our (ED) patients.”
Cohen said Englewood strives to deliver the highest quality care and “in the ED, we are in the forefront of that. We are the front door of the hospital. High quality, efficient and compassionate care — when the patient walks through the door of the ED, that is where it starts.”
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