Cooper University Health Care recently became the first hospital in New Jersey to join an elite group of medical organizations around the country prepared to respond to a radiological event.
The Radiation Injury Treatment Network (RITN) is a national network of more than 75 medical centers nationwide with expertise in the management of casualties from a distant large-scale radiologic incident. Hospitals in the RITN specialize in treating patients with bone marrow failure and acute radiation syndrome.
“As an academic health system and the only Level 1 Trauma Center serving southern New Jersey, Cooper has specialized ability to care for people exposed to significant amounts of radiation from an improvised nuclear device or some other type of radiation accident,” said Simon Sarkisian, DO, MS, FAAEM, an emergency medicine physician and medical director of Disaster Medicine at Cooper.
If a large-scale radiological incident were to happen, there potentially could be thousands of casualties with compromised bone marrow. The RITN is designed to accept these types of casualties from anywhere in the country.
“Bone marrow is the most sensitive part of our body to radiation,” Dr. Sarkisian said. “The same types of side effects are possible with many cancer treatments, so Cooper’s expertise and experience in disaster medicine, trauma, and treating cancer makes us very well-suited to be part of this national group.”
Since its formal inception in 2006, RITN has developed treatment guidelines and standard operating procedures for centers involved in the response to large-scale radiologic incidents, solidified partnerships with governmental and non-governmental organizations, and conducted annual preparedness exercises. As a new member of the RITN, Cooper will participate in regional and national drills as part of readiness efforts.
“Cooper is proud to be a new member of the RITN and take part in national security and preparedness efforts. I commend the members of Cooper’s emergency preparedness team for their efforts in ensuring Cooper is ready to respond to any type of emergency,” said Christine Winn, PhD, FACHE, senior vice president of Ambulatory Operations at Cooper, who provided project oversight.