BELLEVILLE, NJ – Bloomfield First Responders joined their comrades from Belleville and Nutley on Monday afternoon to show appreciation for the doctors, nurses and staff at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville with a Salute to Healthcare Heroes.

The personnel at the hospital are bravely fighting on the front lines in the war against coronavirus (COVID-19), so the three townships came together for a unique way to express their gratitude.

“This is a wonderful idea,” said Dr. Mary Ellen Clyne, President and CEO of Clara Maass.  “The doctors, nurses and other personnel here have been working hard under extraordinary circumstances.  To see their hard work appreciated will surely lift their spirits.” 

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The streets around the hospital echoed with the sounds of waling sirens and blaring horns from a caravan of police cars, firetrucks and ambulances.  Some vehicles were adorned with handwritten posters that included heartfelt messages and well wishes. 

The procession was greeted with medical professionals and staff waving from the hospitals’ front walkway and upper-floor windows.

“We are honored to be invited by the Township of Belleville as we join them and the Township of Nutley in this tremendous show of support for our healthcare workers,” Bloomfield Mayor Michael Venezia told TAP.  “It’s an important morale booster for the medical professionals and staff who are confronting the coronavirus head-on, and we have happy to participate in this wonderful salute.”

In keeping with social distancing orders, there was a safe space dedicated to onlookers away from essential hospital personnel.

All of Clara Maass’ 700 physicians and 2,300 employees – including 700 nurses – have been treating COVID-19 patients since the first one entered the hospital on March 15.

“The community is relying heavily on Clara Maass right now and this is our way to show appreciation to them,” said Belleville Mayor Michael Melham.  “They do so much for us, so this caravan of first responder vehicles with their lights and sirens on is our show of support to the dedicated workers.”

The emotion was evident on the faces of the healthcare workers as an enthusiastic round of applause was given to the first responders as the procession pulled away down Clara Maass Drive.

Finally, something to cheer about in the community.  Hats off to Clara Maass and all healthcare workers worldwide.

For more information or to donate to the Clara Maass Medical Center Foundation, visit www.RWJBH.org.