Two months before Dr. Timothy Brooks was set to retire as medical director, chair and chief of emergency medicine at Saratoga Hospital, COVID-19 struck New York City. “We saw what was happening—and that it could happen here,” Dr. Brooks said. “I couldn’t in good faith walk away.”
Instead, he stayed for what would become some of the most challenging months of his more-than-30-year career. As he’d done so many times since coming here in 1987, Dr. Brooks helped lead the hospital and community response.
Now, with COVID-19 numbers down throughout the region and systems in place to identify, treat and protect patients and staff, Dr. Brooks can move ahead with his plans. He retires July 31 with the respect, admiration and gratitude of patients, medical and emergency response professionals, organizations and officials throughout the region.
Those who know Dr. Brooks weren’t surprised that he put the community first.
“In many ways, Dr. Brooks is a rock that we built the hospital on,” said Dr. Richard Falivena, vice president and chief medical and physician integration officer at Saratoga Hospital. “He has been instrumental in helping us launch almost every clinical program we offer. We can’t overstate his impact.”
Making a difference for millions If you’ve received emergency medical care, been an inpatient at Saratoga Hospital, or visited one of its urgent care centers, Dr. Brooks has made a difference in your care. He’s also informed public health policy and
decisions in Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County, and he’s been instrumental in bringing people together to improve emergency preparedness.
“After 9/11 we realized we had to change our approach,” Dr. Brooks recalled. “We formed a countywide committee and developed plans for managing mass-casualty situations, including biological warfare and pandemics. We’ve been meeting quarterly ever since.”
The committee, which Dr. Brooks chaired from its inception until his retirement, included dozens of health and safety officials. It also caught the attention of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which asked Dr. Brooks to serve as a consultant on educating physicians on bioterrorism.
“He is so respected, within and outside the hospital,” said Ann Marie Cross, MS, RN, administrative director for emergency and urgent care services at Saratoga Hospital. “People know who he is, what he’s done, and how much he cares about everyone.”
Ms. Cross and Dr. Brooks were “a tag team” for 11 years. She attributes his impact to a combination of exceptional clinical skills and bedside manner, a genuine love of teaching and mentoring, and a fundamental belief in collaboration.
“He knew that what we did in the Emergency Department would affect other providers and departments, so he always involved them in the decision-making,” Ms. Cross said.
“He set the stage for so much of what we do,” she added. “He was constantly striving to improve care, and that affected the way we develop protocols, learn from every experience, and collaborate to do what’s best for our patients.
“That’s not going to change,” Ms. Cross said. “It will be his legacy.