To accommodate the dramatic increase in COVID-19 patients in North Jersey, Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) said Saturday it expanded overall capacity 23 percent by redesigning unused patient care areas, including the cafeteria which opened this weekend as a 74-bed specialized care unit for patients affected by the outbreak.
“We are proud of the innovation underway at Hackensack Meridian Health to adapt rapidly and effectively to this historic global pandemic,’’ said Robert Garrett, chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. “This impressive expansion at Hackensack University Medical Center is a model of living our mission to transform health care in order to deliver high-quality care for communities.’’
HUMC, Hackensack Meridian Health’s academic flagship, has grown from 771 beds to nearly 950 to accommodate an increase in patients suffering from serious symptoms of COVID-19, which include high fever and respiratory distress.
The expansion will be used to treat COVID-19 patients in non-intensive care beds.
The hospital, which typically operates 48 adult Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds, also converted medical surgical units into ICU beds. Facility crews working around the clock converted unused spaces into ICUs to expand total accommodations to 167 critical care beds—more than triple original capacity.
The New Jersey Department of Health has called on all hospitals to double critical care beds to meet a goal of 4,000 beds statewide.
While 80 percent of patients who have the virus experience mild symptoms, those that require hospital care often need critical care that includes ventilators.
“We are committed to serving our communities, especially in this unprecedented pandemic,’’ said Mark Sparta, president and CEO of HUMC. “Our teams are innovating and adapting so that we can continue to deliver high-quality care our patients expect of us. I am very proud of our team that continues to put our patients first.’’