Hospital only for COVID-19 patients planned in Hudson County

With increasing need, Jersey City Mayor Steve Fulop opened two new coronavirus test sites for residents — with priority going to first responders and health care workers. One walk-up site can handle 125 tests a day, but got swamped with 500 calls for appointments. Meanwhile, a wave of COVID-19 patients already threatens to overwhelm local medical facilities — especially Christ Hospital.

“They only have two days worth of masks left, is what they say. We’re trying to help them out. They have 67 individuals in the hospital that are likely COVID-positive. They have two ventilators left,” Fulop said.

One nurse recently called Christ Hospital a “war zone.” It’s one of three facilities operated by CarePoint — including Bayonne and Hoboken University Medical Centers. But now CarePoint’s considering a plan to consolidate all of its COVID-19 positive patients in one place — at Christ Hospital.

“We would have ICU-type care on multiple floors. If we did go that direction, we would absolutely need more ventilators, more cardiac monitors, etc.,” said Tucker Woods, Christ Hospital chief medical officer.

He says it’s an idea worth considering, and that it’s working at Carney Hospital in Boston, and at two California facilities.

“It can allow you to have all the expertise at one hospital. It allows you to preserve your PPEs because right now our personal protective equipment is dispersed amongst the three hospitals,” Woods said. “Then the other hospitals, too, can go back to back to their routine business.”

Another advantage of a COVID-19-only hospital — gathering together medical staff who may already have developed some immunity to the pathogen.

“So if they’ve already gone through the virus and are well, then they have some antibodies and can manage in one location all of the others without risking more and more health care providers,” said Stacey Flanagan, director of the Jersey City Department of Health.

CarePoint’s made an application to the Governor’s Office — which is already looking at sectioning the state’s hospital care into three regions.

Murphy’s take:

“I think that to me feels like a smart strategy,” he said.

“We want to make sure they have the resources to handle it,” added Jersey City’s mayor, “because at the same time they’re saying let’s aggregate all the cases into Christ, which kind of makes sense so they have the best doctors there and the best tools there. They’re also telling us they have capacity issues, which I shared with you, so we just want to make sure that both of those things are handled.”

Fulop says he’s got mixed feelings as the city must backstop hospital supply chains, even as it sets up its own coronavirus test sites.

The city’s paying BioReference $50 a test. It’s a $750,000 contract for 15,000 tests. But Fulop expects to ask the state to reimburse all that money.