Well-known doctor James Pruden has been in isolation in the intensive care unit at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center since Mar. 6 after testing presumptive positive for the new coronavirus, said the hospital’s president Kevin Slavin on Friday.
Slavin said Pruden, who works as medical director for emergency preparedness at St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center, had been admitted to the hospital last Friday after experiencing upper respiratory and cold-like symptoms.
“Dr. Pruden is currently under isolation at the hospital and receiving the best possible care,” said Slavin in a state coronavirus briefing to reporters. “We are closely monitoring his condition and praying for his full recovery.”
Hospital officials had been silent on Pruden’s case over the past week to protect his privacy.
“Although HIPAA law prevents us from releasing personal health information about patients, Jim was willing to let us identify him today because he recognizes by sharing his name and condition it may encourage others to come forward and get tested,” said Slavin. “The point we want to make is we’re all at risk for this.”
Slavin said health officials conducted contact tracing to identify and investigate people who came in contact with Pruden.
“I’m relieved to share that of all those individuals, including hospital staff and patients, none at this time – none — have tested presumptive positive for the virus,” said Slavin. He urged anyone who was not identified through the contact tracing process to call their physician or the state hotline to get tested.
“Jim’s a long-time beloved member of our medical staff and revered throughout the Paterson community,” said Slavin. Pruden has been working at the hospital since 1982.
Indeed, Pruden is described as legend in the Eastside section of Paterson by community leaders. Pruden is a resident of Teaneck. He previously resided in Paterson. Over the past decades, Pruden served as a volunteer search and rescue physician. He served as a first responder on 9/11 and led a team from St. Joseph’s University Medical Center to Houston, Tex. to relive healthcare workers after hurricane Harvey.
Pruden is in critical, but stable condition at the hospital.
“He’s one of the really good guys and one of the best professionals in the state,” said governor Phil Murphy of Pruden at the briefing.
New Jersey has 50 presumptive positive cases of Covid-19. One person has died. And 80 people are under investigation, according to state data.
Passaic County has one case in Clifton. No positive cases have been reported in Paterson.
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Updated 5:20 p.m.