Deaths mounting at the epicenter of NJ’s COVID-19 outbreak

It’s a sobering time at the treatment epicenter of New Jersey’s coronavirus outbreak – as Holy Name Medical Center reveals the escalating casualties, especially over the last couple days.

“Unfortunately we’ve had a number of deaths, we have 13 deaths now which is tragic. We’re seeing that all throughout Bergen County, it’s just tragic and terrible. Unfortunately the patients who get very sick who end up on a ventilator, many of them seem to become succumbing from this illness. So the staff is struggling with that, and it’s very difficult for these patients, for their families who are just struggling with the fact that in many cases when you get really sick with this disease, it does seem terminal,” said Holy Name Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Dr. Adam Jarrett.

Jarrett says the numbers are staggering, but that he anticipates even worse outcomes because he fears too many people are ignoring CDC guidelines to wash hands and practice social distancing.

“I think that anyone who’s not listening to that advice is just not realizing know how significant a problem this is,” he said. “Every time that you don’t social distance, you’re potentially setting off a cascade of infections. And somewhere along that cascade of infections, someone might die.”

On the supply side, Jarrett says Holy Name will not use homemade garbage bag gowns.

“We are vetting every supply that we get and we are making a decision whether or not that supply is going to do the job  it needs to do to keep our employees safe,” Jarrett said.

Adjacent to the hospital is Holy Name’s supply chain office which is collecting donated medical supplies — N95 masks, gloves, homemade face shields.

In Wayne, DePaul Catholic High School has started collecting donations for St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Paterson. A DePaul alum and former nurse delivered hospital gowns.

“My heart goes out to all the health care workers that are working now,” the nurse said. “I‘ve been in tough spots in my career working in the hospital, but nothing that compares to this.”

“We’re here to support everyone in our community who needs our support. You may not be an actual member of our community, but when you think about the larger global community, that’s the message we try and give our students everyday. It’s that we are members of a global community, and when one person suffers we all suffer, and we need to respond to that,” said Russell Petrocelli, principal of DePaul Catholic High School.

Across the region, donation drives are underway as the need for coronavirus care grows.