TEANECK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A hospital in Bergen County, New Jersey, was considered the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic just a few weeks ago, but now it’s down to just a few COVID-19 patients.
“A moment of silence, a moment of grief and then everybody had to return back to where they were because there was no time to stop and think,” said Michele Acito, director of nursing operations.
She says the hospital was so inundated, it added more than 100 beds and constructed five more ICUs.
“Today, we’re down to nine patients,” Acito said.
New COVID patient admissions are down to about one or two per week.
“Where at the height of the pandemic, we were having one or two every 15 to 20 minutes,” Acito said.
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It’s also relatively quiet outside the hospital. They say that is another noticeable difference.
“We heard the ambulances coming,” Acito said. “At the height of things, there were overhead announcements, almost constant emergency response.”
With the worst of the crisis behind them, the hospital is now set to resume elective surgeries.
“Orthopedic cases, we’re going to see general surgery, some gall bladder surgeries, things of that nature until we ramp up to full speed,” Acito said.
Patients will be tested for the coronavirus 72 hours before the surgery, and the “no visitor” policy remains in place.
The entire institution was cleaned using a five-step process that involves UV lights and electrostatic disinfectant sprayers.
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So what becomes of all the new construction and other equipment used during the pandemic?
ICUs in areas like a conference room will remain and so will the additional 270 negative pressure beds.
That keeps contaminated air where a patient is from escaping, filtering it outside through a HEPA filter.
“In the event that there is a second wave or if this occurs at another time,” Acito said.
Now the goal is to get the message out to those who need surgery.
“The last thing we want to see is the person who’s waiting and waiting and then they’ve waited so long that their illness is beyond repair or they’ve become sicker because of it,” Acito said.
They say they’re more prepared than ever before.