Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center Welcomes Second Class of United States Army Reserve Soldiers for Operation Hackensack S.M.A.R.T.

Trailblazing program successfully providing high-quality, individualized specialty medical training, improving Army Reserve’s demand for a constant state of readiness

Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center, the flagship hospital of New Jersey’s most comprehensive and integrated health network, and the United States Army Reserve welcomed its second class of OPERATION HACKENSACK S.M.A.R.T. (Strategic Medical Asset Readiness Training) last week, an innovative, first-of-its-kind partnership which focuses on high-quality, individualized specialty medical training for service members to improve their knowledge and skillsets. The program, which launched in June of this year, is successfully delivering on its promise to meet the United States Army Reserve’s constant state of readiness.

“This innovative partnership with Hackensack University Medical Center is making a positive impact in our formations,” said Maj. Gen. Mary E. Link, commanding general for Army Reserve Medical Command. “Operation Hackensack S.M.A.R.T. ensures our soldiers have the knowledge they need to effectively fulfill their duty when they are called to serve. Many of our Army Reserve enlisted medical personnel do not work in the medical field in their civilian capacity, but thanks to this pioneering program, soldiers are now being provided a unique opportunity to train in the most advanced, cutting-edge technological environment that modern medicine has to offer. There is a higher state of readiness that is required today due to emerging global requirements, and Hackensack University Medical Center is playing a pivotal role in helping our soldiers successfully meet this demand.”

The second class of Operation Hackensack S.M.A.R.T. is made up of surgical technologists who are working exclusively in the Operating Room at the medical center. The two-week class began on August 21 with five U.S. Army Reserve soldiers from across the country.  These soldiers are partnering with their civilian counterparts at Hackensack University Medical Center for immersion training, at no additional cost to the government. The class of surgical technologists is receiving individualized training on all aspects of the surgical process in order to refine their skills and ensure that invasive surgical procedures are carried out safely and effectively, which is critically important on the battlefield, including: preparing the operating room, sterilizing the instruments, and working with the OR team from a surgical perspective, working in sterile supply, packaging carts and packaging instruments.

“We are excited to welcome the second class of soldiers to Hackensack University Medical Center as part of Operation Hackensack S.M.A.R.T.,” said Ihor Sawczuk, M.D., president of Hackensack University Medical Center. “This newest class is gaining exclusive access to our state-of-the-art operating rooms, offering soldiers a unique, first-hand experience in the OR. There is an increased demand for surgical technologists in New Jersey and across the country, and we are optimistic that this program will help open up career opportunities for soldiers at our medical center, as well as contribute to their superior readiness and in-depth training within the medical ranks.”

The field of surgical technology is a profession that is expected to experience significant growth over the next 10 years, requiring skilled workers to fill those new jobs. By 2024, there will be a need for over 12,500 surgical technologists nationwide, according to BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS.

“Surgical technologists are a vital part of our medical teams. The opportunity for these soldiers to work exclusively in the Operating Room at Hackensack University Medical Center with world-class physicians and team members is extraordinary, providing immeasurable insight and knowledge that they will carry over into their military capacity,” Link added.

The founding class of Operation Hackensack S.M.A.R.T., comprised of radiologic and laboratory medical technologists, had its first rotation in June 2017. Operation Hackensack S.M.A.R.T. continues to build upon the success of its first class and is evaluating specialties for future rotations. “We received positive feedback from the soldiers and Air Force personnel who participated in the inaugural class, and we will continue to enhance the program to ensure we are meeting the needs of the U.S. Army Reserve to increase readiness.  Hackensack University Medical Center is committed to our partnerships with the U.S. Army Reserve, Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve and the Hackensack Veterans Network to offer valuable career opportunities for our veterans, servicemen and women at our world-renowned medical center,” Dr. Sawczuk added.

Operation Hackensack S.M.A.R.T. is just the latest example of Hackensack University Medical Center’s long-standing commitment to supporting U.S. military veterans. The medical center recently signed a statement of support with the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, an office within the Department of Defense that develops and maintains employer support for Guard and Reserve services. The Hackensack Veterans Network, founded in the fall of 2013, provides Hackensack University Medical Center veterans with information, education, and resources, as well as offers its members an opportunity to continue to give back to their community.

About Operation Hackensack S.M.A.R.T.
Operation Hackensack S.M.A.R.T., an innovative, first-of-its-kind partnership which focuses on high-quality, individualized specialty medical training for service members to improve their knowledge, skillsets and increase soldier readiness between the U.S. Army Reserve and Hackensack University Medical Center. The program integrates interactive observation training that is specific to the jobs soldiers perform in their military capacity. These soldiers are partnered with their civilian counterparts at Hackensack University Medical Center for immersion training utilizing cutting-edge technology, at no additional cost to the government. This innovative relationship is contributing to superior readiness and in-depth training within the medical ranks. It is also providing critical knowledge sharing between military and civilian medical professionals about best practices, techniques and procedures to ensure military service members are trained to use the most current technology in today’s rapidly changing health care landscape.

About Hackensack University Medical Center
Hackensack Meridian Health Hackensack University Medical Center, 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 now part of one of the largest networks in the state comprised of 28,000 team members and more than 6,000 physicians. Hackensack University Medical Center was listed as the number one hospital in New Jersey in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017-18 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. Hackensack University Medical Center 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. Becker’s Hospital Review recognized Hackensack University Medical Center as one of the 100 Great Hospitals in America 2017. The medical center is one of the top 24 green hospitals in the country according to Practice Greenhealth, and received 25 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. Hackensack University Medical Center has created an entire campus of award-winning care, including: the John Theurer Cancer Center; the Heart & Vascular Hospital; the Sarkis and Siran Gabrellian Women’s and Children’s Pavilion, which houses the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital, which received a national ranking in Pediatric Neurology and Neurosurgery in U.S. News & World Report’s 2017-18 Best Children’s Hospitals, and the 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. Hackensack University Medical Center is the Hometown Hospital of the New York Giants and the New York Red Bulls and is Official Medical Services Provider to The Northern Trust PGA Golf Tournament. It remains committed to its community through fundraising and community events especially the Tackle Kids Cancer Campaign providing much needed research at the Children’s Cancer Institute housed at the Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital.