News, Notes, and Inspiring Stories to Share
The NYU Dentistry community has long been known for its generosity in providing care for New Yorkers in need. Now, as we all grapple with the unprecedented disruptions caused by COVID-19, our community has again stepped up in many different ways to offer help where help is needed. I’d like to share with you just a few of the ways in which our community has been addressing the challenges before us in these past few weeks.
On March 23, the College answered the Governor’s call in an especially meaningful way by donating face masks, gloves, gowns, and face shields to combat the spread of COVID-19. Deliveries were made to the Javits Center and to Bellevue Hospital Center. On March 30, at the request of Dr. Staci Bloom, Vice Provost of Research at NYU, the College readied another major donation of PPE, this time for NYU Langone Health. We’ve since learned that most of the gloves and a portion of the isolation gowns that we donated to Langone were being rerouted to Brookdale Hospital, as their need for the PPE was dire.
This was a massive undertaking led by John McIntosh, Associate Dean for Clinic Administration and Revenue Cycle Management, who did an extraordinary job of coordinating these donations.
I am pleased to report that in addition to the College’s own PPE donations, many of our alumni have reached out to us to ask if they could also donate PPE from their offices. I want to thank these alumni for making such a significant offer during this crisis. And I want to thank John, once again, and his team for arranging for this additional PPE to be donated to Langone as well. As a result, the College has become a storage site for critically important PPE for Langone, allowing them to access it easily when needed.
Thanks to the efforts of so many of our faculty, staff, and administrators, our Telehealth Service is up and running — addressing the urgent care needs of New Yorkers and helping to minimize visits to hospitals and urgent care facilities at this critical time. Led by Robin Elliott, Clyde Jackson, Jakai Reid, Leighton Pitter, and Terry-Ann Brown, our team of faculty volunteers and the staff and administrators from Clinic Operations/Patient Care Services, Technology & Informatics Services, Compliance & Safety, Dental Health Informatics/EHR, and Clinical Affairs has enabled us to provide assistance to approximately 200 patients daily.
From left: The completed masks, sourced from Isaac Budmen Industries LLC; the Ultimaker 3-D printer; and the computer designs of the components being printed in the Department of Biomaterials (shown are different views of the shield on top and the strap locks on the bottom).
A particularly exciting development is occurring through a collaborative venture among Dr. Lukasz Witek, Director of the Craniomaxillofacial Orthopaedic Biomaterials Regenerative Applications Lab, who oversees 3-D printing in the department, and colleagues at NYU Langone Health and NYU Tandon, who are teaming up to print plastic components of face shields for distribution to frontline responders at NYU Langone Health, and, subsequently, other area hospitals.
Dr. Witek was able to repurpose four of the printers in his lab to print two primary components of the 3-D face shield: a 3-D visor and a strap lock. Knowing that every piece helps during this difficult time, he wanted to make sure that he could print as many of these as possible, so he requested and received permission to take one of the printers to his apartment where it is printing non-stop, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He then passes these components on to the Langone team, who finish assembling the shields for distribution to health care personnel at Langone.
A final 3-D printed face shield, after assembly at NYU Langone.
Dr. Witek is also collaborating with NYU Tandon’s MakerSpace to enable the Langone and Tandon teams to strengthen the PPE pipeline in order to donate additional face shields to other area medical centers which may be in need of PPE in order to stay safe while treating patients.
Another good piece of news this past week came from Dr. Brad Aouizerat, Deputy Director of the Bluestone Center and Professor of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, who was asked by colleagues in Langone’s microbiology lab for access to his benchtop automated nucleic acid isolation system — one of only two at NYU — to assist them with COVID-19 testing. And not only did Dr. Aouizerat agree, he also sent a team from his lab to train them to use our system to isolate nucleic acids from patient samples to test for COVID-19.
Henry Schein, Inc., a longtime friend of the College and supporter of our NYU Dentistry/Henry Schein Cares Global Student Outreach Program for the past decade, recently announced the availability of an antibody rapid blood test for COVID-19. The test delivers results within 15 minutes from a pinprick with no instrumentation required.
Henry Schein is working through multiple channels to distribute these tests in the United States as quickly as possible in response to the urgent need for rapid, accurate testing. The company anticipates having at least several hundred thousand available in the next few weeks.
Health care professionals will be able to use the results of the test, along with a patient’s medical history, symptoms, and results of other relevant testing, to make informed decisions about patient treatment and care.
From the fantastic faculty members who volunteered to launch our Telehealth service, to our Educational Technology, TIS, and EHR teams who have made so much happen so quickly, to our administrators and staff who are working so hard to support our mission, to our students who are asking how they can help, to our alumni who are reaching out with donations of PPE — I am so grateful for our amazing health care community and inspired by all of you. I hope that you will continue to share any news, notes, and developments that reflect so well on who we are and what we do.
Charles N. Bertolami, DDS, DMedSc
Herman Robert Fox Dean