March 26, 2020

Bhalla, Giattino, Carepoint make urgent plea for medical resources to sustain Hoboken University Medical Center

Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla, Council President Jen Giattino and Carepoint officials today made an urgent plea to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to secure additional critical resources for the Hoboken University Medical Center. According to hospital officials, the hospital is projected to run out of personal protective equipment (PPE) including N95 masks, surgical masks, gowns, gloves, and more in less than six days. The hospital is also near capacity of ventilators for critical patients, and is soon anticipating an additional surge of patients due to COVID-19. Approximately one-third of the hospital’s patients are either being tested for COVID-19 or have tested positive.

“I am grateful to the efforts of our federal and state leaders, especially Governor Murphy, Senator Menendez, Senator Booker, and Congressman Sires for making resources available to fight the spread of COVID-19, including the stimulus bill which will soon unlock resources and funding,” said Mayor Bhalla. “Now comes the time to decide where those vital resources go, and Hoboken University Medical Center is in desperate need of help, where lives are literally on the line and medical supplies running short. Our hospital needs additional resources without delay, before it’s too late.”

“In emergencies we all come together as a nation, that's what we do,” said Council President Giattino. “We're asking for your help today, not when it's too late.”

“CarePoint health stands side by side with Mayor Bhalla, Commissioner Persichilli and Governor Murphy in their call for direct federal support in the form of vitally needed equipment and resources for those of us on the front line in the battle against COVID 19,” said Ann Logan, Chief Hospital Executive. “It is vital that our experience and request for life saving help be heard before it is too late.”

In order to have enough PPE for the anticipated surge of patients due to COVID-19, Carepoint has indicated it will need approximately 10,000 surgical masks, 5,000 face shields, 2,800 N95 masks, and 5,000 gowns.

As of Thursday afternoon, Hoboken has 56 confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. New Jersey has a confirmed 6,876 cases according to Governor Murphy’s office.

Mayor Bhalla’s remarks at Thursday’s press conference can be found in full below, as prepared for delivery:

I first want to thank Governor Phil Murphy whose leadership makes New Jersey among the states most aggressively combating the spread of the coronavirus.  I also want to express my gratitude to our congressional delegation, especially Senators Menendez and Booker and Representative Sires, for crafting a bipartisan relief package to help all Americans.

So, why are we here today?  I’m here because our hospital, the Hoboken University Medical Center, has sounded the alarm.  I will not mince words - hospital leadership has informed me that in SIX DAYS they will run out of critical, life-saving medical supplies and equipment.  In SIX DAYS, we will not have the resources we need to save lives. In six days, the hospital’s personal protective equipment including N95 masks, gowns, gloves, and more, will be used and gone. They’re near capacity of ventilators for critical patients, and for everyone else, will need to rely on emergency back-up ventilators.

As the coronavirus crisis continues, our health care professionals are working tirelessly, day and night, to literally keep people alive. These are some of the most trying times our doctors, nurses, and staff have ever seen, and they’re living it every day on our front lines. More and more patients are coming to Carepoint to get tested and treated because of COVID-19, and medical professionals predict it’s only going to get worse with the surge projected to be just a few short weeks away. The hospital has already developed plans to expand the Emergency Department into space in the parking garage adjacent to the hospital to manage the influx of new patients coming in. But added space will not matter unless added supplies come and come quickly.

As I stated, I am grateful to the efforts of national and state leaders for making resources available to fight the spread of COVID-19, including the stimulus bill which will soon unlock resources and funding.  Now comes the time to decide where those vital resources go, and to do so as quickly as possible. Delay is not an option. Lives are literally on the line.  This is my message to those at the Federal Department of Health of Human Services making the decisions:  Hoboken desperately needs your help, and we need it now.

Without your help, in six days our doctors could be faced with clinical decisions impacting lives.  We can’t afford to have our doctors and nurses reusing masks and other equipment several times a day because they have no other option. Cities like Hoboken and other Hudson County Municipalities are hitting a breaking point, and we need to do everything possible to ensure doctors aren’t forced to pick and choose who lives based on equipment shortages.

As the logistics of the funding allocated in the stimulus package are being finalized, I strongly urge the President and the administration to recognize that the epicenter of COVID-19 in America right now is in New York and New Jersey.  Over 28,000 cases are in New York City and New Jersey alone. In Hoboken, we had another 11 cases confirmed yesterday, with another 9 today – representing our highest totals to date.  We also learned today that we have our first Hoboken Police Officer who tested positive for the virus.  Shockingly, New Jersey as a whole has more cases than California.

The only way to flatten this curve--- is to stay ahead of the curve--- and that is what we will continue to do in Hoboken, but we can’t do it alone.  When we have flattened our curve, we will turn around to the next community or the next state and share the resources and the supplies because that is what we do, that is who we are as Americans, because in this moment we are all in this together.  

I want to once again reiterate my sincere thanks to Governor Murphy, who is in communication with the White House and advocating for more funding and equipment on a daily basis. He is providing leadership that is saving lives, and I can’t thank him enough. I also want to once again recognize the work from Senator Menendez and Senator Booker who helped shape the current stimulus bill to ensure New Jersey gets its fair shake. I know that as the weeks and months continue, they’ll continue to put New Jersey first and fight for our residents.