HackensackUMC Hosts Zika Virus Preparedness Summit

April 29, 2016

On Friday, April 29, 2016, Hackensack University Medical Center hosted the Zika Virus Preparedness Summit, convened by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ), with a goal of addressing and preventing the spread of the Zika virus.

New Jersey currently has nine confirmed cases of Zika virus out of more than 400 cases nationwide. All are related to travel that originated overseas.

“We were proud to host this summit to promote awareness and prevention of the Zika virus,” said Robert C. Garrett, president and chief executive officer of the Hackensack University Health Network. “I am grateful to the elected and health care leaders who mobilized along with our physicians to address this critical issue in a meaningful way.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently concluded that Zika causes microcephaly, a severe birth defect involving brain damage and other neurological and autoimmune conditions.

“Today’s summit comes at an important time: we know that the risk of a Zika outbreak in the United States this summer is increasing with each passing day. Pregnant women face a particular threat, which is why it is so important that we take immediate action to protect against this disease,” said Senator Booker.

The Zika virus is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedesspecies mosquito. It can also be sexually transmitted. There is no available vaccine.

“We need to ensure dedicated efforts are in place to raise public awareness, improve testing methods and mosquito control techniques, and support research into the progression and effects of Zika and the development of treatments and vaccines,” said Senator Menendez.

Zika education, awareness and prevention efforts are primarily focused on those likely to be most impacted by the virus and those likely to contract it. They include pregnant women, male partners of couples considering expanding their families, and others traveling to affected countries.

“HackensackUMC is a health care leader when it matters most for our communities,” said Ihor S. Sawczuk, M.D., president of HackensackUMC. “With the emergence of the Zika virus, we are committed to keeping our health care team and community informed and involved regarding the latest developments, screening methods, and treatment protocols for this disease.”

Invited summit participants also included: Dr. Stephen Redd, director, CDC Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response; Cathleen Bennett, acting commissioner, NJ Department of Health; Jackie Cornell-Bechelli, regional director, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Lisa Tank, M.D., vice president of Medical Affairs at HackensackUMC, who moderated the event; Julie Piwoz, M.D., section chief, Pediatric Infectious Disease, Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital at HackensackUMC; Steven Sperber, M.D., chief, Adult Infectious Disease, HackensackUMC;  Manuel Alvarez, M.D., chair, Department of OB/GYN, HackensackUMC; Paulette Nelson, assistant director, NJ Division of Fish and Wildlife; and Aline Holmes, senior vice president, NJ Hospital Association.

About Hackensack University Medical Center
HackensackUMC, a 775- bed nonprofit teaching and research hospital located in Bergen County, NJ, is the largest provider of inpatient and outpatient services in the state. Founded in 1888 as the county’s first hospital, it is the flagship hospital of Hackensack University Health Network, one of the largest health networks in the state comprised of 1,717 beds, more than 10,000 team members and 3,300 credentialed physicians. HackensackUMC was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey in U.S. News & World Report’s 2015-16 Best Hospital rankings – maintaining its place atop the NJ rankings since the rating system was introduced. It was also named one of the top four New York Metro Area hospitals. HackensackUMC is one of only five major academic medical centers in the nation to receive Healthgrades America’s 50 Best Hospitals Award for five or more years in a row. The medical center is one of the top 25 green hospitals in the country according to Practice Greenhealth, and received 24 Gold Seals of Approval™ by The Joint Commission – more than any other hospital in the country. It was the first hospital in New Jersey and second in the nation to become a Magnet® recognized hospital for nursing excellence; receiving its fifth consecutive designation in 2014. HackensackUMC has created an entire campus of award-winning care, including: the John Theurer Cancer Center; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; and the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital and Donna A. Sanzari Women’s Hospital, which was designed with The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center and listed on the Green Guide’s list of Top 10 Green Hospitals in the U.S. HackensackUMC is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and is Official Medical Services Provider to The Barclays PGA Golf Tournament. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events. To learn more, visit www.HackensackUMC.org.