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Transformation of a field hospital can bring 1,000 hospital beds in a matter of days

PHOTOS BY KATHY CHANG/STAFF
The New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison was one of four sites selected to transform into a field hospital in the state's efforts to keep up with the novel coronavirus pandemic.

EDISON – The transformation of field hospitals – one in each region of the Garden State – can be up and running within seven to eight days, according to Lt. Col. David Park, 60th Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia.

Col. Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police announced the four field hospital sites – Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, Atlantic City Convention Center in Atlantic City and periodically the state police’s urban search and rescue facility with locations to be determined, during Gov. Phil Murphy’s press briefing on March 24.

Callahan said at a press briefing on March 25 that with the need in northern New Jersey, the first field hospital to open will be at the Meadowlands, then Edison and finally Atlantic City.

Park and his team are working alongside New Jersey officials to get “ready wings and hospitals” up and running.

Murphy said given the trajectory of novel coronavirus cases, the state will need to increase hospital capacity. He said at the moment the hospital systems are stressed but are able to withstand the current number of cases.

The state currently has 18,433 acute care beds including 2,000 beds for critical care.

“Over the next several weeks our goal is to increase capacity by 2,360 [beds],” Murphy said.

Additionally, state officials are working on bringing closed hospitals back into service adding 1,360 additional beds.

The steps the state are taking, Murphy said, allows them to expand hospital capacity rapidly in a short term ensuring proper continuum of care for those residents in need.

“Up to additional 1,000 beds can be activated in just a matter of days and weeks,” he said.

He said the state’s movement on the field hospitals and other measures to combat the pandemic has the support of President Donald Trump and his administration.

New Jersey has the second highest number of positive COVID-19 cases in the United States.

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