Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, hospital beds across Hudson County have become scarce as more residents have contracted the virus. This shortage means that hospital beds for non–COVID-19 patients are in high demand.
To cope with the projected shortage in hospital beds in New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy has announced the construction of three temporary field hospitals in each region of the state, adding a total of 1,000 beds.
A field hospital will be set up to serve each part of the state: North, Central, and South. To serve North Jersey, a field hospital was constructed at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus.
The field hospital opened the week of April 6 to begin taking non-COVID-19 patients, but the 250-bed facility has already expanded to include residents suffering from the virus, and Secaucus Mayor Michael Gonnelli is not happy that this change was made without consulting him.
Gonnelli explained the change in plans at in a COVID-19 update on April 10.
“First off, we were assured by Governor Murphy, and all those we talked to at the state government level, that the facility at the Convention Center would not treat COVID patients,” Gonnelli said. “Despite these continued assurances, I have now been advised the facility will treat COVID patients whose condition has improved to the point where they do not need a high level of medical care.”
Gonnelli was not part of the decision-making process, noting that the federal government has the final call.
“This decision was made without consulting me,” Gonnelli said. “The facility is funded by FEMA, and even though it is situated in our town, we had no say as it relates to the operation of the facility or the patients treated. I was advised the facility was changing direction to treat COVID patients as a ‘courtesy’ after the decision had been made.”
The Marriott Hotel in Secaucus would join the Meadowlands field hospital in taking COVID-19 patients who do not need a high level of medical care.
Marriott Hotel for quarantined residents
Gonnelli confirmed that the Marriott Hotel has been contracted to take COVID-19 positive patients under quarantine who require little to no care, but cannot return home due to a risk factor such as someone in their home with an underlying medical condition.
The facility will likely also house healthcare workers who have been exposed or are under quarantine and not in need of hospital care, according to Gonnelli.
“Once again, I was not aware as to the operation of this facility until today,” he said. “The operation at the hotel was set up by the state/federal government, without my knowledge or input.”
Gonnelli said he has been assured these facilities create no increased risk to residents or businesses in the community.
“I certainly understand we need to work together in this crisis and that these facilities are much needed,” Gonnelli said. “To that end, Secaucus has done its part and will continue to help in any way we can to bring an end to this pandemic.”
For regular updates regarding COVID-19 in Secaucus, visit the town’s website at secaucusnj.gov/virus.
“Regardless of where you go you must assume you are encountering the virus and be diligent about social distancing, washing of hands, not touching your face, etc.,” Gonnelli said.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.