Insights into Infection Control in a New York City-Based Hospital System

Montefiore Health System has a long history of treating infectious disease, and with the current pandemic and other emerging pathogens, they remain vigilant to potential outbreaks.

New York City has traditionally served as a destination for both immigrants and international travelers. The bright lights, the attractions, and opportunities for a new life all help to bring millions of people to its doorstep every year.

With that, it can also bring pathogens, and the city’s hospitals need to be prepared for any known or unidentified viruses or illnesses that appear.

From its beginnings, New York City-based Montefiore Health System has had a legacy of treating infectious disease. The first hospital opened in 1884, and cared for patients with tuberculosis and other chronic illnesses. And in 2020, the Montefiore Moses division became one of the first designated COVID centers, and the first to achieve in-house COVID-19 testing in New York City using the polymerase chain reaction.

Today, the health system consists of 15 hospitals and a primary and specialty care network of more than 180 locations across Westchester County, the lower Hudson Valley, and the Bronx. The health system includes the Montefiore Medical Center (Moses Division), which is an academic medical center and the primary teaching hospital of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx borough of New York City.

It was the rise of Ebola in 2013 that really helped Montefiore focus their attention to the possibility of treating infectious disease outbreaks, according to Priya Nori, MD, director, Antimicrobial Stewardship, Montefiore Health System and associate professor, Medicine & Orthopedic Surgery, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, program director of the infectious diseases fellowship program.

“Our hospital was one of the designated treatment locations within New York State," Nori said in speaking about their experience with Ebola. “We had to quickly stand-up a special unit…and train a cadre of nurses, providers, physicians, and people willing to take care of a patient with a highly transmissible illness.”

The Montefiore staff who were involved in the Ebola planning were able to pivot and transition to treating patients with COVID-19 when the pandemic hit New York City in the spring of 2020.

Although COVID-19 remains of paramount importance, Montefiore remains diligent to the possibility of other pathogens, including Candida auris

Contagion spoke with Nori recently about infection prevention protocols at Montefiore, the challenges of treating and eradicating Candida auris, and what other precautions they take to avoid potential outbreaks.