For Immediate Release
Contact: Susan Preston
UMDNJ Organizes Health Care Teams to Respond to Hurricane Katrina;
Offers Academic Clinical Training Opportunities to Displaced Students
9/1/05—In response to the rapidly increasing public health crisis in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) today began organizing teams of its health care professionals to travel to the affected areas to offer assistance.
"The response has been overwhelming," according to Dr. John J. Petillo, UMDNJ president. "In less than two hours after it was sent, a Universitywide e-mail seeking physicians, dentists, nurses, behavioral health professionals, and emergency medical services personnel generated more than 100 responses from UMDNJ health care professionals. And responses continue to pour in from faculty and staff who are eager and willing to get on site and help."
UMDNJ is working with the State of Louisiana, the American Red Cross and the New Jersey Office of Public Health Protection and Emergency Preparedness to determine when UMDNJ teams will be deployed. "We will be ready by the weekend, but because of the scope of the public health crisis is so massive, medical professionals will be needed over a long period of time. We may not be rotated down there for several days," said Christopher Kosseff, president of UMDNJ University Behavioral HealthCare, who is coordinating the University's response.
Dr. Petillo said, "We are also reaching out the institutions of higher education located in New Orleans to offer assistance to students enrolled in health professions programs and to medical residents in programs at hospitals currently closed because of flooding."
Dr. Cecile Feldman, dean of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Dental School, has sent a letter to the dean of the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry offering assistance to fourth-year dental students who are willing to relocate to New Jersey at least temporarily to continue their studies. "Dental students in the fourth year primarily do faculty-supervised clinical rotation to build their skills in providing patient care. We are willing to provide clinical opportunities in Newark for any fourth-year dental students from Louisiana who wants to relocate here to continue their studies."
Dr. Stephen Baker, chair of radiology at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, has sent out a letter to graduate medical education programs across the nation in his capacity as president-elect of Society of Chairmen of Academic Radiology Departments asking each program to take one displaced radiology resident. "The radiology residency programs at Ochsner, Tulane and Louisiana State University have a total of 58 radiology residents. With the hospitals closed, these residents are unable to pursue their training according to the requisite curriculum. In radiology, any extended interruption of training can prevent residents from being allowed to sit for their board examinations on schedule."
Dr. Petillo said, "This effort by the university is a reflection of its commitment to its mission of serving only our communities in New Jersey, but our fellow citizens no matter where they live. We are proud to share the phenomenal expertise of our faculty where ever and when ever it is needed."