As we reflect on living through a global pandemic, each through his own lens, it is striking how quickly our lives were changed. Whether you are a health-care worker, a parent, a student or a business owner, what seemed to be “ordinary” was suddenly gone. Instead, days were marked by anxiety and isolation but also unexpected and touching displays of courage and kindness.
Through my lens at the helm of White Plains Hospital, last year taught us much. It demonstrated how important it is to be able to adapt, to trust science and one another, and it created urgency to devise new innovative solutions in rapid time. Seemingly overnight, the hospital transformed as we took on the enormous role of keeping our community healthy and patients and staff safe. To meet state requirements and handle the surge of Covid-19 patients, we quickly increased our capacity from 250 beds to 375 and expanded our ICU beds from 16 to 82. In-person doctor visits were suddenly replaced by video consultations and remote patient monitoring tools were deployed to deliver the highest levels of patient care. As health-care institutions, we evolved because we had to, and while many of these solutions were already in their infancy, the pandemic accelerated technologies that may forever change how we care for patients.
During the peak of the pandemic, nearly 80% of the patients in the hospital were diagnosed with Covid-19. That number is now less than 1%. This is incredible from where we were a year ago and is proof that vaccinations are working. I cannot stress enough how important it is that everyone who is eligible get vaccinated. We have seen how effective these vaccines can be in reducing Covid-19 hospitalizations, which in turn has supported restrictions finally loosening. However, we cannot think Covid-19 is gone forever. The virus remains a threat to those who are unvaccinated, and the more things return to normal, the greater that threat will be.
While we have been consumed by the impact of Covid-19, we never lost sight of the future. Throughout this last year, while battling the virus, we never lost our focus on finding new ways to deliver advanced care to our community. As a testament to this, on June 7 we opened our new Center for Advanced Medicine & Surgery.
One of the largest dedicated outpatient facilities in Westchester, the new Center for Advanced Medicine & Surgery opened on time despite the challenges of the pandemic. The nine-story, 252,000-square-foot ambulatory center consolidates many of our specialty physicians under one roof and features state-of-the-art operating rooms, endoscopy, ambulatory and procedure suites, wound care delivered through hyperbaric chambers, advanced imaging and noninvasive cardiac diagnostic testing. It is also home to the first and only PET (positron emission tomography) MRI scan in Westchester. This technology provides a higher level of detailed views than traditional MRIs, allowing for more precise diagnosis and treatment.
This new facility represents an important step forward as we look to expand access to comprehensive care in Westchester County. It also furthers our commitment to enhancing the patient experience, while providing the latest advancements in treatment and technology to better serve the needs of our community.
The pandemic reaffirmed the importance of having access to exceptional health care close to home, as patients should not have to travel to receive the comprehensive and life-saving care they need. Currently, almost 80% of patients who need heart surgery leave Westchester County for care. Late last year, we were approved by the Department of Health to begin offering this service to our community.
Since then we have been busy preparing, building two new high-tech operating rooms in the hospital, upgrading our ICU facilities and working closely together with the cardiac surgery team at the Montefiore Health System to ensure our program will offer the most advanced care.
There is no doubt that even before the pandemic, White Plains Hospital had changed significantly since we first opened our doors 128 years ago as a small community hospital. As a member of Montefiore since 2015, we have continued to grow and evolve our programs and services, building on our promise to always provide the highest level of quality care to our patients, no matter the circumstances. We are so grateful for the support of our neighbors, friends and partners who have helped us to become the health-care facility we are today and who sacrificed so much over the past year for the greater health of our community. Together, we look forward to a brighter future.
Susan Fox, president and CEO of White Plains Hospital, is recognized as one of Westchester County’s most influential executives, one who has been at the forefront of transforming the regional health care industry over the last decade. By forging strategic partnerships and aligning and recruiting top clinical and administrative talent, Fox has driven the expansion of the hospital, a member of the Montefiore Health System, developing it into a leading provider of advanced health care in the Hudson Valley. For more, visit wphospital.org.