By Michael Hill
It started with a simple hallway conversation and today it’s described as the first of its kind in America.
Operation Hackensack S.M.A.R.T. — Strategic Medical Asset Readiness Training. Starting today, 14 reserves — a dozen from the Army and two in active duty with the Air Force — begin two weeks of one-on-one training with the medical center’s doctors.
“At no additional cost to our country, these soldiers will shadow team members within the medical center gaining exposure to the emergency department, operating rooms, inpatient and outpatient areas, as well as specialized clinical laboratories. This groundbreaking program with contribute to superior readiness and in-depth training within the medical ranks,” Sawczuk said.
“Our soldiers will greatly benefit from this unique experience and unrivaled expertise in order to advance their medical knowledge successfully meeting our Army Reserve demand for a constant state of readiness,” said Maj. Gen. Mary Link, commanding general of the Army Reserve Medical Command.
Among the starting class, Sgt. Frances Palmer, U.S. Army reserve soldier.
“This is going to expand the level of care that I know now to be able to provide more care, ample care, for the soldiers when I’m actually in the field,” Palmer said.
The hospital offered a tour of where the reserves would train, including radiology.
“We touch just about every single patient that comes in to this medical center. Radiology is always one of the first stops because we have the tools to peer inside the body in a noninvasive way. The soldiers will have a checklist of the types of procedures that they’re going to be graded on and tested on. We have a robust list of X-rays, and it’s not just a chest x-ray, it’s not just an ankle x-ray, it is literally every kind of x-ray one could imagine, including CT scans as well,” said Director of Radiology Michael Horton.
Congressmen Bill Pascrell and Josh Gottheimer and said the country needs to do more to serve the military.
“Hackensack S.M.A.R.T. is exactly the type of civilian military cooperation we need to see more of in our communities around New Jersey and around the country,” Gottheimer said.
“This is what we’re talking about, partnerships. This is what it will take to make the country stronger,” said Pascrell.
Pascrell called this a big deal because it pairs a medical institution with cutting-edge technology and know-how with the great need of caring for men and women in service on the battlefield.