By: Follow Local News Staff
SECAUCUS, N.J. — Governor Phil Murphy and U.S. Senator Bob Menendez spent approximately 20 minutes on Thursday touring New Jersey’s first field hospital built in response to the outbreak of COVID-19, according to a release from the governor’s office. The governor also thanked the state troopers and Army Corps of Engineers for their quick work that he said will save lives.
The 250-bed hospital at the Meadowlands Exposition Center should be ready to take non-COVID-19 patients Monday, said Colonel Patrick Callahan, superintendent of the State Police. During a press briefing today, New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the purpose of the field hospital is to take on patients with “lower acuity” — patients who require less intensive care than others.
Essentially, the field hospital will serve as a “step-down” facility for patients that would otherwise go to area hospitals to alleviate pressure on them. However, Callahan said the field hospital could be ramped up for intensive care use.
Murphy said it was an “extraordinary effort” to build the hospital.
Menendez, who helmed efforts to build the hospital — as well as two others currently under construction, in Edison and Atlantic City — told the workers, “we’re hopefully going to save lives.”
The other two field hospitals should be ready to open soon, Callahan said, though he did not have firm dates. A fourth hospital that was planned to open in Monmouth County was instead folded into the project under construction in Edison and will hold 500 beds, he said.
Additionally, today Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 113, authorizing the New Jersey State Director of Emergency Management to use the governor’s full authority under the Disaster Control Act to commandeer personal services and/or real or personal property. This would include medical supplies and equipment from private companies and institutions in order to help meet the continued need for ventilators and personal protective equipment (so-called “PPE”) in the state at hospitals, health care facilities, and emergency response agencies due to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19.
“We must continue to take action to meet the critical medical needs of our hospitals and medical centers during this pandemic,” said Governor Murphy. “While we look forward to these facilities cooperating in providing this equipment, this order gives the Office of Emergency Management the express authority to protect the public health, safety, and welfare by ensuring that supplies go to where they are most needed.”
For more local updates on the COVID-19 outbreak, check out our dedicated page.