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April 02, 2020

Temporary hospital in Atlantic City to begin treating non-COVID-19 patients in mid-April

The makeshift facility will provide 250 beds in South Jersey

Health News Coronavirus
Atlantic City makeshift hospital new jersey coronavirus Thom Carroll/For PhillyVoice

A temporary hospital at the Atlantic City Convention Center is expected to be ready to treat COVID-19 patients by April 14, New Jersey officials say.

A temporary hospital being set up at the Atlantic City Convention Center to treat South Jersey patients in need of non-COVID-19 care is expected to be ready by April 14, state officials said Thursday. 

The makeshift hospital, which will hold 250 beds, is one of three being established in three regions of the state. All together, the hospitals will add another 1,000 beds amid the coronavirus crisis.

The temporary hospital at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, Hudson County is expected to begin accepting patients on Monday, while the hospital at the New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center in Edison, Middlesex County is slated to be ready by Wednesday.

State officials are working with health systems to expand bed capacity in their facilities, Gov. Phil Murphy said. They also are seeking to reopen closed hospitals that could provide approximately 1,300 more beds. All told, state officials want to add 2,300 beds in the coming weeks.

One coronavirus projection model, run by the University of Washington, has predicted New Jersey will run out of hospital beds by the time cases peak later this month.

Atlantic County has five hospitals, while Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem counties only have seven hospitals combined, according to the New Jersey Hospital Association. Burlington County has nine hospitals and Camden County has seven hospitals.

New Jersey had 18,433 acute care beds and an additional 2,000 beds for critical care as of last week, according to Murphy. Though the state's hospitals were currently meeting the needs of New Jersey patients, Murphy warned that they eventually could become overwhelmed by coronavirus patients. 

Murphy also signed an executive order Thursday authorizing the New Jersey State Police to take control of extra medical supplies and equipment held by companies and health care facilities that are not currently in operation.  

“We must continue to take action to meet the critical medical needs of our hospitals and medical centers during this pandemic,” Murphy said in a statement. “While we look forward to these facilities cooperating in providing this equipment, this order gives the Office of Emergency Management the express authority to protect the public health, safety and welfare by ensuring that supplies go to where they are most needed.”

Murphy previously had signed an executive order mandating all businesses and non-hospital health care facilities to submit its inventory of personal protective equipment, ventilators, respirators and anesthesia machines to the state.

Another order, issued last weekend, requires health facilities to report their inventories of beds, personal protective equipment and ventilators on a daily basis. That order is directed at licensed acute care hospitals, long-term care facilities, hospital systems and temporary medical facilities. 

New Jersey has 25,590 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 537 deaths as of Thursday afternoon. While the majority of cases have been in North Jersey, South Jersey has 941 cases.

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