EDISON – Come April 8, five hundred beds are expected to fill the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center as the state’s second temporary field medical station.
Gov. Phil Murphy said the temporary field medical stations are set up to afford support for the state’s brick and mortar hospitals in the coming weeks as positive COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
Judith M. Persichilli, commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Health, said state officials are working with area hospitals on transferring patients with lower acuity cases safely to the field medical sites to create more space for hospitals to care for the critically ill.
“The field medical sites are being set up for non-COVID-19 patients; however, the staff working at these sites will be prepared to care for individuals who may develop COVID-19 while at the field station,” she said.
On March 24, Col. Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police had announced the four field medical station sites to be set up in three regions – 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.
The first field medical station is up and running at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus with 250 beds.
Murphy said officials from a strategic centralized standpoint made the decision to double the amount of beds in Edison.
“We still have four field medical station sites as we promised, the Army Corps [of Engineers] is working mightily with FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency], the state police and Department of Health,” he said.
Persichilli said level one trauma centers in each region with organized resources and needs, are well-positioned with the ability for ground and air medical transfer transport of patients.
The field medical stations will be led by a chief medical officer and a chief nursing officer, Persichilli said, adding the staff complement at the sites will include physicians, registered nurses, physician assistants, advanced practice nurses, respiratory therapists, behavioral health workers, social workers, and the U.S. Army National Guard.
“The staffing [for the field medical stations] have been primarily through our volunteer portal as well as through temporary agencies,” she said, noting criteria is in place for decisions and identifying transfer of patients.
Murphy said the field medical stations are essentially built from a bare slab of concrete floor and within a matter of days is up and running.
Officials said the field medical station at the Atlantic City Convention Center is expected to be open on April 14.
The state currently has 18,433 acute care beds including 2,000 beds for critical care. Additionally, state officials are working on bringing closed hospitals back into service adding 1,360 additional beds.
In total, New Jersey will have an extra 1,000 beds with the field medical stations.