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E. coli Outbreak in New Jersey?
Date:5/22/2008

EpiCenter's built-in statistical tools were able to detect an unusual pattern of gastrointestinal cases developing. The system issued notifications of a possible E. coli outbreak to the appropriate regional public health watchdogs, who in turn contacted the medical center.

"Drills are an important part of our ability to be prepared for a range of emergencies that might come up," said Carrie Nawrocki, Hudson Regional Health Commission epidemiologist. "It is crucial that we are alerted quickly when unusual events occur so we can take the right steps to manage the outbreak, including working with local health departments and notifying other hospitals in the region."

Added Nawrocki, "Some hospitals might have difficulty recognizing patterns of incoming patient complaints. That's quite understandable given the activity level in emergency departments, especially on a very busy day like our drill. We need a reliable tool to see emerging problems, and that's why EpiCenter is so critical to us. We were delighted with how EpiCenter performed -- exactly as desired."

The actual processing of the test data was handled on a parallel version of EpiCenter set up specifically for the drill by Health Monitoring Systems.

Doreen McSharry, Palisades Medical Center's safety and infection control director, and Howard Wassinger from the Center's IT department, planned the drill.

McSharry noted that the "exercise not only tested our ability to recognize a potential outbreak, but also our capability to manage an unusually large influx of potentially infectious patients. Exercises of this nature are performed every year at hospitals and medical facilities throughout the country in accordance with Joint Commission standards. We were pleased to work with Health Monitoring Systems on this year's drill."

Steve DeFrancesco, Health Monitoring chief information officer, added that as the open source EpiCenter is being used by increasing numbers of public hea
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SOURCE Health Monitoring Systems
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