SIUH’S FORMER CHAIR OF EMERGENCY MEDICINE TAKES ON THE HOSPITAL’S TOP SPOT, LEADING IT INTO A FASCINATING FUTURE
BY JESSICA JONES GORMAN • PHOTOS BY AMESSÉ PHOTOGRAPHY
During his 11 year tenure as chairman of emergency medicine at Staten Island University Hospital, Dr. Brahim Ardolic led his department through some of the borough’s most challenging recent events.
“When you’re trained as an emergency physician, crisis management is kind of part and parcel of what you do,” Ardolic explained, detailing his role at the hospital during several historic weather events as well as the response to the terrifying scare posed by the Ebola virus. “But you approach each challenge as you would a crashing patient, and look for every opportunity to improve the process and right the ship.”
Ardolic’s family came to the United States in 1973 and settled in Prince’s Bay. He graduated from Tottenville High School, then attended medical school at SUNY Downstate. He did his residency at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. Ardolic signed on with SIUH in 2004, serving as the hospital’s director of emergency medicine before being named chair of the department in 2007. In that role, he led the hospital through a complete expansion of its Emergency Department, transforming the unit into a modern academic facility with a regional and national presence. He was also instrumental in establishing SIUH’s Emergency Medicine Residency Program, supplementing the hospital’s staff with a team of talented emergency medicine physicians.
Earlier this year, Ardolic was named western region vice president of Northwell Health’s emergency medicine service line, with administrative oversight of the health system’s emergency departments in Manhattan, Staten Island, and Westchester County. This past May, he was appointed executive director of the hospital.
“Brahim Ardolic has been a rising star in Northwell Health since joining Staten Island University Hospital more than a decade ago,” said Michael J. Dowling, president and CEO of Northwell Health. “A longtime Staten Islander, his commitment to the community has been proven time and time again, especially during Superstorm Sandy and during the current opioid epidemic that has impacted thousands of families on Staten Island. Brahim’s leadership and forward thinking in developing new programs and uninterrupted emergency care in response to public health issues facing the Island make him an ideal choice to lead the hospital and its nearly 6,600 employees.”
The opportunity to be the hospital’s executive director is “a tremendous honor,” Ardolic said. “Staten Island is such a wonderful community. The fact that the borough is so remarkably large—home to over 500,000 residents—but still so small and neighborly is amazing to me. Our patients and our staff are like family, and everyone is closely tied to this community. Hospitals in the other boroughs have a staff that commutes from all different areas of New York City. Mostly everyone who works here, lives here. And our physicians, nurses, and staff care deeply for our patients, because they are our friends and neighbors as well.”
Hospital executives point to Ardolic’s leadership during Hurricane Irenes and Sandy and how well his staff navigated the 2014 Ebola crisis as his tenure’s most noteworthy accomplishments.
“The Ebola crisis was a remarkable challenge because it was such a nebulous thing,” Ardolic said. “Staten Island has a large West African population, so our hospital needed to be prepared. But no matter what guidelines, policies, and preparations you have in place, this was an atypical situation not seen often in our history.”
When Hurricane Sandy battered Staten Island in 2012, the hospital remained open for business. Ardolic dealt not only with the hospital’s immediate response but with the storm’s aftermath as well. “So many people couldn’t go home because they had no home to return to,” he said.
“It was honestly such a trying time for our community and the hospital in general because we had to find a way to still deliver services to patients who so desperately needed them.”
His current goal as executive director is to meet the medical needs of all Staten Islanders so that residents will not have to leave the borough to get the treatment they need. “Staten Islanders,” he said, “should never have to leave here for medical care.” He cited the hospital’s newly opened robotic fluoroscopy unit, the only one of its kind on the Eastern Seaboard, as an example of the advanced level of care that’s available.
“This high level unit, located within our Cardiac Catheterization Lab, allows physicians to perform valve replacements without opening the chest, while giving us complete access to the patient,” he said. “It is the same unit we will be putting in a hybrid operating room where doctors will be able to perform that procedure as well as many regular surgeries, all in the same suite.”
The hospital also recently opened a cardiac rehab unit, which cares for patients after a major heart event.
“There is so much focus on fixing the heart, but this unit focuses on what happens after,” Ardolic said. “After a major cardiac event, patients need to take steps to get back to their day to day lives. In this unit, we get them walking around, supervise them on a treadmill, and help them take their lives back one step at a time.”
The director sees these new capital projects as two very different programs for patients on either end of the spectrum.
“With these new additions, we can take care of cardiac patients who are getting through the process and those who are just getting back on their feet,” he said.
In his free time, the 46 year old enjoys taking CrossFit classes and running Spartan races. He says family and fitness are major parts of his life.
“I’ve been married for 25 years and have two wonderful children,” he said. “I look forward to and welcome this new opportunity to serve the residents of Staten Island.”
Staten Island University Hospital / Northwell Health
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