Salem County’s main hospital is undergoing a renovation to help combat the coronavirus.
Salem Medical Center announced Monday it would be retrofitting rooms in the hospital to create 58 new hospital beds specifically for coronavirus patients. Every room of the hospital’s third and fourth floors are being set up for negative air pressure and telemetry, and the renovations are expected to be finished in mid-April.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, the Mannington Township-based hospital was licensed for 75 medical-surgical beds, 30 long-term care beds, 26 psychiatric beds, and 12 critical care beds.
But as New Jersey’s cases of coronavirus surge to 41,090 as of Monday, resulting in 1,003 deaths, all hospitals are preparing to handle an influx of more patients. There are 26 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Salem County, although experts have said widespread testing is lacking across the state, particularly in South Jersey. Those numbers, however, are expected to increase.
“Essentially, we are converting general medical-surgical beds into ICU beds capable of handling an influx of COVID-19 patients,” Salem Medical Center CEO Dr. Tammy Torres said in a statement. “The timing of this work is critical, as southern New Jersey is expected to see a spike in demand for hospital beds over the next 15 days. This additional capacity will provide extra beds, supplies, and staff to Salem County residents and to the southern region.”
“By joining forces with the State, we are able to put as many resources as possible at the disposal of our frontline healthcare providers during this growing crisis,” Salem Medical Center Chairman of the Board William J. Colgan said in a statement. “Time is of the essence to stay ahead of the surge, and we will continue working closely with the State and others to ensure area residents can get the care they need. None of this would be possible without the tireless and dedicated efforts of the Hospital’s medical staff, nursing staff, general staff, and administration, to whom we are all extremely grateful.”
The renovation plans have drawn praise from political figures such as Assembly Deputy Speaker John Burzichell (D-District 3).
“It is a proud moment for the community when we see our local hospital step up and work with the State to help be part of the solution for this unprecedented crisis,” said Burzichelli. “My heartfelt thanks go out to Salem Medical Center’s physicians and nurses, who are serving on the front lines, as well as its Board and Administration, for their commitment to the health and safety of Salem County and for New Jersey.”