(EAST ORANGE/ORANGE, NJ) - Beloved East Orange General emergency room doctor, EKG technician, and a two-time cancer survivor, Frank Gabrin, 60, fell victim to coronavirus and died on Tuesday.
As of April 2, 65 people have died in Essex County out of 2,607 positive cases, 3 deaths occurred in East Orange and 1 in Orange.
Gabrin’s husband, Arnold Vargas of NYC told NJ.com in an interview that Gabrin said, “I can handle this. I survived cancer and this is just the coronavirus.’” When his symptoms worsened at home in New York, Vargas called the NYPD for help, after having to wait 30 minutes Gabrin died in his husband’s arms.
The lack of enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is being cited by Gabrin’s husband who is also exhibiting mild symptoms of the virus as the root cause of the ER doctor contracting COVID-19 from his patients. Vargas said Gabrin repeatedly used the same N-95 masks and gowns at the hospitals where he worked.
Lacking PPE is a national issue and effecting the health care industry as a whole. Medical centers around New Jersey are crying out for help. In a opinion piece penned by Governor Phil Murphy and Massachusets Governor titled "We Need More from Washington. This Crisis Transcends Party. Our States Need Support," they stated, “foremost, we need the federal government to support states’ efforts to secure personal protective equipment and lifesaving items like ventilators. The government must boost private-sector manufacturing of these critical supplies now and get out of the way of states when we seek private-sector suppliers and release more materials from the national stockpile to meet our pressing needs.”
New Jersey has established a website collecting PPE donations that anyone can donate through. Millions of donations have come by way of large companies such as Merck, the New Jersey Devils organization, Saint Barnabas, and Horizon to name a few. There have also been a number of grassroots PPE donation efforts occurring throughout New Jersey.
Local elected officials including Mayor Ted R. Green, and Assembly members Thomas P. Giblin and Britnee N. Timberlake have been working to drive PPE donations and supplies to the district which includes East Orange General Hospital where Gabrin worked. They have also been working with local colleges and hospitals to encourage the creative process of potentially 3D printing medical masks. On March 22, East Orange General received donated state PPE and later ventilators but is still in need of more. On April 1, the Governor made an announcement they were successful in purchasing 10 million PPE supplies that had previously been out of stock. The supplies will be distributed throughout the state.
East Orange Mayor released the following statement about Gabrin:
“On behalf of the entire City of East Orange, Mayor Ted Green would like to extend deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of East Orange General Hospital ER Physician Dr. Frank Gabrin. It is with a heavy heart that we learned of his untimely passing due to complications related to COVID-19 and we are thankful for his unwavering dedication to serve the people of East Orange as we continue to battle this extremely challenging pandemic. Dr. Gabrin held true to his oath to serve the most vulnerable, and for that, our community will forever be in his debt. He was an example to us all, putting the lives of others ahead of his own. We also want to extend our gratitude and appreciation to the entire East Orange General Hospital community for their hard work and commitment to battling this public health emergency. You are on the front lines of this crisis and know that we keep you in our thoughts and prayers every single day."
"He just wanted to help people," was all Gabrin's husband Arnold Vargas could gather himself to say in an interview with Chris Cuomo of CNN.
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