Rotary International District 7475, which encompasses most of northern New Jersey, has obtained grants and has purchased 10 ventilators for area hospitals which will save 130 lives.

Rotary District 7475 includes 83 Rotary Clubs in the following New Jersey counties: Essex; Hunterdon; Somerset; Middlesex; Mercer; Morris; Sussex; Union; Warren; and the town of New Hope, PA. Past District Governor Dr. D. Michael Hart is the Foundation Chair for the District. He was able to write two grant proposals which were matched by Rotary International totaling over $100,000.

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There is an urgent need for Ventilators in New Jersey hospitals to fight the Corona virus pandemic. Without ventilators, patients die. Ventilators typically last for 10 years. Hospital grade ventilators cost about $40,000 each. Refurbished ventilators are approximately $10,000 each. Rotary wanted to stretch their dollars to do the most good, so they purchased ten refurbished ventilators to save the greatest number of people. The Rotary fiscal year ends on June 30, so the District will get more funds on July 1 for additional grants.

The coronavirus is an airborne disease infecting the lungs. It has an incubation period of between three to 14 days without symptoms; with the peak onset of the disease at five or six days. The disease symptoms last for about three weeks. Day 6 seems to be a critical turning point where some patients become seriously worse. In the more serious cases a ventilator is needed for the last two weeks of the hospital stay. Without a ventilator the more serious patients will die. Over a six-month period, 10 ventilators will save 130 lives. Ventilators typically last 10 years, so they will save many multiples of 130 lives. The Rotary District is donating them to the hospitals for future use.

The Rotary International Foundation has made fighting the COVID 19 virus a priority and issued a letter to that effect on Tuesday, March 24 at 6 p.m. The Rotary District 7475 Grants Committee held a phone conference the next day Wednesday, March 25 and decided to put District resources into this urgent need.

The Grants committee consists of District Governor Ray Freaney of The Rotary Club Madison, District Grants Chair Sharan Jain from The Rotary Club of New Brunswick, and Rotary Foundation Chair Dr. D. Michael Hart from The Rotary Club of Westfield. Michael started an application to purchase three ventilators that same day and submitted it by Friday night.

On Monday. March 30. The Rotary Foundation located in Chicago, Illinois approved the grant. Most Global Grants take between six months to a year to write up, obtain estimates, submit and obtain approval. This grant only took 4 business days. The first three ventilators are destined for Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth, NJ.

Since the first Global Grant was such a success, the grants committee met again on Wednesday, April 1 and decided to use the remaining District resources to purchase as many ventilators as they could.  Dr. Michael Hart wrote up the second international matching grant to obtain seven more ventilators for RWJ University Hospital Somerset, NJ. The matching grant was approved by Rotary International on Friday, April 3, 2020.

RWJ University Hospital Somerset is part of RWJ Barnabas Health. This includes 15 hospitals and is the largest hospital system in both New Jersey and the United States. The system was formed by a merger of the Robert Wood Johnson Health System and the Saint Barnabas Health Care System on March 30, 2016. They are affiliated with RWJ Medical School, Piscataway. The ventilator equipment is shared among the 15 hospitals as needed.

Global Grants require an international partner. District 7475 had done a fundraiser for Rotary District 9820 in Australia. Over our winter, (their summer), they had extensive wildfires which were out of control. District 7475 in New Jersey raised funds to purchase two fire truck trailers for $10,000 each and help them fight the fires. We have a relationship with them because one of our members, Past District Governor Bob Button in the Rotary Club of Lake Hopatcong, NJ has a brother living there, David Button. David is the president  elect of the Rotary Club of Berwick, Victoria, Australia. That club was kind enough to be our partner to purchase ventilators in New Jersey, even though they also have a coronavirus problem in Australia.

Rotary International is an international business networking and service organization. Most towns have a Rotary club.  Guests are always welcome. The international website is www.rotary.org. The District 7475 Website is www.njrotary.org Most Rotary clubs are meeting digitally through Zoom during the shutdown. For more information, contact District 7475 Foundation Chair Dr. D. Michael Hart drmhart@yahoo.com.