In an effort to expand hospital bed capacity amid a projected surge in coronavirus patients in northern New Jersey, St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center is opening 154 acute care medical beds at the former Barnert Hospital.
Hospital officials are securing equipment and staffing for the new site which is expected to be operational in next two weeks. New Jersey health commissioner Judith Persichilli had directed hospitals and health systems to find ways to increase capacity to help absorb the surge in Covid-19 patients.
“We’re fast-tracking this effort to immediately bring additional hospital beds into the fight against the virus,” said Kevin J. Slavin, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health, on Wednesday morning. “Repurposing the Barnert facility will enable us to convert medical units at both our Paterson and Wayne hospitals into critical care beds at a time when patients suffering from COVID-19 are in growing need for more intensive care.”
Slavin is working with Bloomfield-based Community Healthcare Associates (CHA), owner of the Medical Arts Complex at the old Barnert Hospital. The former hospital building has operated as a medical mall, housing nursing facility, primary care practices, and addiction treatment centers, after the hospital with 236-bed closed in 2008.
“We are joining forces to put as many resources as possible at the disposal of our frontline healthcare providers during this growing crisis,” said Bill Colgan, managing partner at CHA. “Time is of the essence to stay ahead of the surge, and we’re happy to do our part in order to ensure area residents can get the care they need. This could not have been made possible without the collaboration of Family of Caring Health and Rehabilitation and Turning Point, who have agreed to uproot their businesses to safely transfer their patients out of the building in order to support this effort.”
Colgan’s firm has a history of restoring services at healthcare facilities throughout New Jersey, hospital officials said. Family of Caring and Turning Point, operators of subacute and rehabilitation services at the Barnert Complex, have been working with St. Joseph’s Health and CHA to convert the beds to care for patients requiring hospitalization.
“We understand the need for more acute care beds to serve the growing numbers of COVID-19 patients,” said Mirlana Morris, chief operating officer at Family of Caring in Paterson. “We’re all in this together and our entire Family of Caring team has been working tirelessly to safely transfer our patients in order to free up space.”
Slavin thanked Colgan and others for assisting in repurposing the facility to support surge capacity.
“We are extremely grateful to Bill Colgan, CHA and everyone at Family of Caring and Turning Point for stepping up to help us and make this project a priority,” said Slavin.
Passaic County and particularly Paterson is seeing a big increase in Covid-19 cases. The number of cases in Paterson increased by 47-percent – from 256 to 376– on Tuesday.
“I applaud the efforts of everyone involved in this heroic effort. We can’t afford to have our hospital be overburdened,” said mayor Andre Sayegh. “It’s remarkable after being closed all these years Barnert Hospital is going to play a pivotal role in our war with this virus.”
Barnert Hospital closed in 2008. It served the city of Paterson for nearly 100 years.
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