NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ – Middlesex County has convened meetings with local partners, including local hospitals, to discuss plans and preparations pertaining to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. The County called these meetings as a preparatory measure before the virus spreads to the state and/or the County.

 

Yesterday, Middlesex County hosted a meeting with New Jersey State Senator Joseph F. Vitale, the Middlesex County Health and Safety office, Middlesex County College, Middlesex County Vocational Technical Schools, the Executive County Superintendent, and local healthcare partners, including representatives from Hackensack Meridian Health, RWJBarnabas Health, Saint Peter’s Healthcare System, and Penn Medicine Princeton Health. This afternoon, several of those representatives briefed members of our state legislature and mayors and business administrators from across the County’s 25 municipalities on those preparations and plans in place.

 

“I would like to thank all those at the County and state level, as well as those in the private sector, for all they have done and for coming together to ensure the safety and well-being of our residents and visitors. During these meetings over the past couple of days, it has been an honor to work with a dedicated group of individuals who want nothing more than to keep our residents and visitors safe, healthy, and informed,” said Director Rios.

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COUNTY PREPARATIONS

 

Middlesex County Department of Public Safety & Health has been addressing the COVID-19 situation since it emerged and began to spread.

 

Over the past month, the Middlesex County Department of Public Safety & Health’s Offices of Health Services and Emergency Management and Preparedness have been working jointly with the County’s 25 municipalities in insuring that all policies, procedures, and protocols have been reviewed and modified if necessary. The offices have been working cooperatively with the Centers for Disease Control, federal, state, county, hospital, and educational partners in the exchange and dissemination of information which include daily updates.

 

COLLABORATION WITH PARTNERS

 

“While COVID-19 has not yet been identified in NJ, we should all put into practice very basic precautions - the things we should be doing anyway this time of year to prevent the spread of the flu and colds. The www.cdc.gov website has excellent recommendations for the public, businesses, and other interest groups to follow whether a disease is present in their community or not.  These recommendations include things like frequent hand washing, the regular cleaning of high touch surfaces, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home from work when sick.  I know it’s hard for parents to take off of work when our kids get sick, but let’s all be vigilant together.  In doing so we will not only help to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19 but the flu and other illnesses too,” said Senator Vitale.

 

“Hackensack Meridian Health continues to educate and train our care team and follow the protocols established by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control here in Middlesex County and throughout our health care system. We are very appreciative of all the efforts of the Middlesex County Administration for bringing the task force together and to our team members and medical staff for being vigilant. We want the community to know they are our number one priority,” said M. Todd Way, regional president, Hackensack Meridian Health Central Market.

 

“We are grateful to be participating with our government and healthcare partners as we prepare for this situation. At RWJBarnabas we are focusing on planning, training, and exercising by looking at our plans and updating them accordingly, reemphasizing training and competency within our employees, and exercising our plans. It is an ongoing and very dynamic situation and  we have a lot of excellent people across our spectrum engaged in that process. Working with our partners and government entities, we are confident that we are as prepared as we can be, and we will improve preparedness as the situation develops,” said Louis A. Sasso, corporate director of emergency management at RWJBarnabas Health.

 

“Penn Medicine Princeton Health is prepared to care for any patients who are suspected of having or are diagnosed with COVID-19.  Our staff is well trained in caring for patients with infectious diseases and in infection control practices that would prevent the spread of the virus.   The hospital is following CDC guidelines to screen patients to identify possible exposure to the virus. We are working closely with officials from national, state and local agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and the  New Jersey Department of Health to ensure that we remain informed about any developments related to the virus,” said Steven Bergmann, chair of the department of medicine and senior vice president for medical affairs.

 

“At Saint Peter’s University Hospital, we are reviewing our preparedness for the COVID-19 on a daily basis. As a women and children’s hospital with over 5,000 births, we are prepared to care for laboring women who potentially may be a person under investigation for COVID-19. We have staged our induction suites to be negative pressure as well as the operating rooms in that area so that if a laboring woman requires a C-section or any type of general surgery, it can be performed in that space. We will also be restricting visitors for any patient that has tested positive. For the well-being of our patients, the hospital will provide them with iPads so that visitation with family members and friends can happen remotely,” said Linda Carroll, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Saint Peter’s Healthcare System.