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National Disaster Medical System arrives at Upstate to assist with Emergency Department

At the request of the state, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has deployed a team of medical professionals from the National Disaster Medical System (NDMS) to Upstate University Hospital to assist in caring for patients in the hospital’s emergency department and other non-ICU areas.

The federal team of 31 includes physicians, pharmacists, advanced healthcare practitioners, nurses, paramedics, and safety, logistics, and administrative support specialists arrived on campus Jan. 3.

The team will assist primarily in the Emergency Department and will enable more patients to be seen in the Emergency Department. The nationwide staff shortage has impacted Upstate and required the hospital to destaff beds, which can lead to a backup in the Emergency Department, as it takes on more “boarders”—patients who are waiting for a bed to open to be admitted. 

“The goal is to free up more ED space for boarding patients—patients who are waiting for a hospital bed to be admitted—such that we can reclaim more ED space for ED care,” said William Paolo, MD, chief of emergency medicine. “These members of the NDMS team allow us to have more opportunities to care for people in the ED.”

Paolo said their presence at Upstate is especially important given the surging covid numbers in the community.

Upstate University Hospital CEO Robert Corona, DO, MBA, said the assistance is much-needed to continue serving the needs of the region with Upstate’s unique services. “The Emergency Department is the front door of our facility,” he said. “When the ED backs up, Upstate—a major referral hospital for a significant number of rural hospitals—it’s difficult for individuals who want and need care here.”

Corona also noted that the hospital leaders continue to watch the increasing positive COVID case numbers.  “We see these numbers increase and having this additional assistance will help our facility through this surge.”

Upstate President Mantosh Dewan, MD, thanked the state for bringing these important resources to Upstate.

“We are very grateful to the state Department of Health for its support of bringing this NDMS team to our region and our facility,” he said. “Upstate has continued its important work for the region under significant pressures. This team will assist us to continue to do this important work.”

“The U.S. has reported record-breaking numbers of Covid-19 infections as the Omicron coronavirus variant sweeps across the country, including here in Syracuse,” said Tim Tackett, NDMS team commander at Upstate. “My team will do everything it can to help Upstate get through this current surge and provide much needed support to the hospital’s staff who continue to work around the clock to care for members of this community.”

NDMS is a part of HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). NDMS helps communities respond to and recover from public health emergencies and disasters. Since January 2020, NDMS has conducted more than 740 missions in 40 states and U.S. territories, deploying approximately 6,600 medical, logistical, and command and control personnel to help states, territories, and jurisdictions respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Caption: Some of the members of the National Medical Disaster System aiding the Emergency Department are, from left, John Woycitzky, Eric Pinkham, Brian Herskovitz, Mary Vance, Paul Beidelschies, Timothy Tackett, Paul Clay and Charles Call.