Bayonne Medical Center at the epicenter of COVID-19

A Bayonne man has tested positive, as well as a doctor at the hospital

A Bayonne man tested positive for COVID-19 at Bayonne Medical Center on March 18.
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A Bayonne man tested positive for COVID-19 at Bayonne Medical Center on March 18.

At the center of the COVID-19 cases in the city of Bayonne is Bayonne Medical Center (BMC).

On March 18, Mayor James Davis confirmed that a Bayonne resident who was currently hospitalized at Bayonne Medical Center has tested positive for the virus. This is the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the city.

Previously, a resident podiatrist at Bayonne Medical Center tested positive for COVID-19 after a screening. However, that was not considered the first case in Bayonne because he is not a resident of the city.

Mayor Davis announced in an online statement addressed to the community that the virus had spread to Bayonne.

“As you are all aware, we have been taking steps to help inhibit the spread of the Coronavirus,” Davis said. “We knew that it was only a matter of time when our residents would be affected, and we do have our first case among one of our neighbors.”

The man’s condition is reportedly not life-threatening. The 74-year-old male is currently in stable condition at BMC, Davis stated. The medical staff is following all proper isolation and quarantine protocols.

Davis reiterated that this is not a time for panic or fear. He echoed calls for residents to remain calm and to continue to wash hands frequently, do not touch the mouth or face, and limit the time spent around other people.

“We all need to follow the advice and directives that have been put in place to help slow the spread of this virus,” Davis said. “Continue to go about your lives as best as you can, but use a common sense approach.”

In New Jersey and here in Bayonne, a number of directives have been created to help increase social distancing. Mayor Davis urges residents to continue to follow these directives, because these steps will help slow its spread of the virus throughout the community.

Bayonne will continue to share information with residents on the city website at www.bayonnenj.org and on Davis’s social media pages, as well as City of Bayonne and Bayonne Office of Emergency Management social media pages.

“We are all praying for our neighbor’s speedy recovery and the safety and well-being of all of us,” Davis said. “Be safe.”

While the man is the first Bayonne resident who has tested positive in Bayonne, he is technically not the first person in the city to test positive for the virus.

Bayonne Medical Center podiatrist infected

A resident podiatrist at Bayonne Medical Center has tested positive for COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, according to a source who spoke to the Bayonne Community News on the condition of anonymity.

In response to queries about the situation, CarePoint Health released a statement confirming that a BMC healthcare provider tested positive for COVID-19 on Sunday, March 15.

This was reported to the local health department and the New Jersey Department of Health.

CarePoint Health stated that the man is considered high-risk and was self-quarantined at home immediately upon symptom onset.

Upon advice from local and state health officials, and in accordance with the CDC recommended protocol, the healthcare provider and other healthcare employees who were in contact with him, who are considered low to high-risk exposure, will continue to self-quarantine until symptom-free and until they meet the recommended time frame to return to work.

According to the source, the podiatrist is a middle-aged man who is apparently doing fine. CarePoint confirmed that his symptoms are mild, and he is expected to make a full recovery at his home.

The hospital will follow established exposure procedures for involved staff and patients, again following CDC guidance for high risk exposure. The source said that other staff may be infected as a result of shared pagers and other equipment with the podiatrist who tested positive.

On March 17, a second practitioner at a CarePoint Health facility, this time at Hoboken University Medical Center, tested positive for COVID-19. No other information was released regarding this employee.

This brings into question the exact measures that are being taken at CarePoint Health facilities, specifically Bayonne Medical Center, to stop the further spread of the virus.

CarePoint highlighted the extensive preventative measures being put into place at Bayonne Medical Center as a result of the positive tests.

Precautions and drive-thru testing

“We will also continue to follow strict protocol including visitor restrictions to reduce exposure and to protect our patients, our staff, and the public,” a spokesperson for CarePoint Health stated on March 18.

Bayonne Medical Center recently updated its restrictions on visitations as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, in addition to the other CarePoint Health facilities at Christ Hospital and Hoboken University Medical Center.

BMC is currently not allowing any visitors into the hospital, including the Transitional Care Units and Rehabilitation Departments. However, some exceptions will be made to visitation policies under certain circumstances.

These exceptions stipulate that one visitor may be permitted in Pediatric Care, Maternity, Labor & Delivery, Ambulatory Care, Same Day Surgery, and End of Life and Hospice.

“We take these proactive precautions to protect our patients, team members, and our community,” said CarePoint Health in a statement.  “We are sensitive to the separation this restriction causes our patients and their loved ones, but we believe this measure of protection is essential at this time to keep people safe. Phone and video calls to patients are encouraged as a means of communication with your loved ones.”

Bayonne Medical Center may also soon begin drive-thru testing for potential COVID-19 patients. This would allow people to be tested for the virus without having to leave their cars or enter the hospital. However, the plans are still very fluid at this time and not much is known about the potential program.

“This is still in very early planning stages and will be limited to only patients referred from the Carepoint Health medical group,” a spokesperson for CarePoint Health stated. “The testing will be conducted at Bayonne Medical Center and Christ Hospital only.”

There is no additional information available regarding the testing at this time.

Despite these preventative measures, it is not clear how many people the podiatrist may have come in contact with while infected with COVID-19 at work. According to the source, the man was working with patients in the lead-up to testing positive for the virus.

The city is also taking precautions to limit the further spread of the virus.

Davis has ordered the Mayor’s Office to remain open 24 hours a day and has installed two hotlines for residents to use in connection with COVID-19 issues. The General COVID-19 Hotline is 201-858-6705 and the Senior COVID-19 Hotline is 201-858-6105.

Residents of Bayonne can also sign up for the Swift911 Notification System in order to receive important messages online at www.bayonnenj.org by clicking the Swift911 Banner, or by downloading the Swift911 Public App to a mobile device.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.