Murphy Issues Call for Volunteers as Hospitals Brace for Coronavirus Surge
Posted on March 30, 2020 by Politico
Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday issued a call for anyone with a health care background to step forward as state officials prepare for an expected surge by mid-April in the number of hospitalized patients with coronavirus.
“Health care workers have enough on their plates and we know we need to call for experienced backup,” Murphy said during his daily briefing. “If you have training, we need you.”
“This isn’t just for New Jersey residents either. We’re looking across our nation for help,” he said.
Murphy said the state is looking for anyone with qualified medical training and experience, such as retired nurses or doctors, medical students and EMTs.
The governor’s call for volunteers came moments after he announced 1,982 newly confirmed cases of coronavirus, bringing the total number of cases statewide to 8,825. An additional 27 people have died, bringing that total to 108.
Hospital staffs are already stretched to the limit as the number of Covid-19 cases continues to soar and some health care workers have become infected. And additional staffing will be needed needed for the four “pop-up” hospitals the Federal Emergency Management Agency will open around the state in the coming weeks. At least two shuttered hospitals will also be re-opened to provide additional beds.
Last week, state Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli and Judith Schmidt, who leads the New Jersey State Nurses Association, put out a call for any nurse with an active or inactive license to come forward if they’re able to assist in the response.
On Friday, Persichilli said that in anticipation of the surge in hospitalizations that‘s expected by mid-April, CEOs of New Jersey’s hospital systems should look at their critical care bed capacity and increase it by 100 percent. She said that if a hospital currently has 10 critical care beds, for example, it should look to increase that to 20.
There is a marked difference between a surge of cases and a peak, Persichilli said, explaining that the surge is when she expects to see “an influx at a point in time into the hospital,” whereas the peak is when “we expect to see the peak of all cases of positive Covid.”
Persichilli said she thinks the state’s hospitals are equipped to handle the critical care surge, but that more ventilators may be needed. She said that as of Friday, the state needs approximately 2,300 ventilators — one for each of the 2,000 critical care beds in the state and 300 in reserve.
In a letter to HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, New Jersey‘s congressional delegation said the state was sent just four ventilators despite requesting 2,500 to add to the 2,000 it already has.
“We believe right now we have enough ventilators,” Persichilli said. “[But] if the surge results in more individuals needing ventilators than our projections, we certainly need to get ventilators in reserve.“
As of Thursday, Persichilli said, 1,080 patients in New Jersey hospitals have tested positive for coronavirus and another 1,872 are awaiting results. But, she warned, there’s an estimated weeklong backlog of testing due to the overwhelming volume of requested tests. Persichilli said the time between having the test specimen collected and getting the result could be as high as seven days.
“As a result, we’re getting positive tests right now from individuals tested almost a week ago, so it does not take into account our social distancing interventions,” she said. ”Therefore, any projection at this point in time is suffering from the lack of that information.”
Murphy said at the briefing that New Jersey will get through the pandemic, although not unscathed. But he did emphasize that the coronavirus is calling out “our better angels.”
“Unequivocally, we will get through this. It won’t be tomorrow, I wish it were. It won’t be unscathed. We’ve already seen over 100 precious lives lost,” he said. “But we will come together like never before, assuming each one of us — all 9 million of us — does our part. We will come through this, unequivocally, as one family stronger than ever before.”
This article was originally published on politico.com at https://www.politico.com/states/new-jersey/story/2020/03/27/murphy-issues-call-for-volunteers-as-hospitals-brace-for-coronavirus-surge-1269418