March 18, 2020
New Jersey officials are looking to reopen the decommissioned Underwood Memorial Hospital in Gloucester County to provide more beds for patients infected with COVID-19.
The state is reportedly working with Inspira Health network to make the Woodbury facility available as the number of coronavirus cases continues to expand. The state hit 427 positive cases on Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy said. Five people have died.
Inspira Health closed the Woodbury hospital's acute care facility in December, when it opened a new hospital in Mullica Hill. Since then, the Woodbury site has maintained emergency department, a mental health program and outpatient facilities.
Once available, the hospital in Woodbury would create 300 new beds and would also take in patients with other conditions affected by the stress elsewhere on the state's health system, according to NJ.com.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said the state is working to make available as many new beds as possible for an anticipated surge in cases.
In addition to the pending plans in Woodbury, the state is opening up more beds in hard-hit North Jersey and hopes to have several hundred more available in the next few weeks.
Gov. Murphy sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Tuesday seeking assistance to identify facilities that can be repurposed as hospitals and build new ones. Murphy cited the president's remarks yesterday about the availability of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Over the last week, New Jersey has instituted far-reaching restrictions on businesses and social gatherings to contain the spread of the coronavirus. It has among the most cases in the United States as of Wednesday evening.