Officials at Saint Clare’s Health System say their hospitals are virtually free of COVID patients and preparing aggressively for any recurrence of the virus, but they are not seeing a return of patients for non-COVID medical conditions.
Saint Clare’s CEO Brian Finestein and CNO (Chief Nursing Officer) Jan Bednar told the Morris County Board of Freeholders they are operating at 60 percent of capacity in the emergency department, a situation that is similar at other local hospitals in Morristown, Pequannock and Newton.
“Our biggest concern is that people with real medical emergencies are not coming to the hospital,’’ Bednar told the freeholders during a virtual briefing of the county government board. “You see it nationwide: people are not coming to the emergency department because they are afraid (of COVID).’’
“We are seeing people come into the emergency room who are too ill, who have waited too long to come for help,’’ said Finestein.
The CEO said Saint Clare’s reached a high mark in April of 120 COVID patients at its Denville and Dover facilities. Today, they just have three COVID patients, and just one in the ICU, compared to 60 a few months ago.
To deal with the virus, officials said Saint Clare’s test all admissions. All surgeries are set up 72 hours in advance, with patients tested for COVID and asked to quarantine prior to surgery.
Visitation is limited to one person per patient for four hours a day, with mandatory temperature checks. Hospital employees also are checked daily, and required to wear personal protective equipment.
“We are in a constant state of readiness. Everyone has a heightened sense of awareness,’’ said Finestein. “We are not leaving anything to chance.’’
Morris County Freeholder Director Deborah Smith said county government would help Saint Clare’s get out the message that residents in need of medical treatment should visit their local hospitals in Morris County for assistance.
“We want people know that our hospitals are safe, and they should not be afraid to get treatment,’’ said Freeholder Smith. “Your health concerns should not just be about COVID, but it is your overall health that is critical.’’
Saint Clare’s officials said they re-opened outpatient surgery in Denville on May 27 and in Dover on June 8. But they are only operating at slightly more than half of capacity.
For more information on Saint Clare’s Health: https://www.saintclares.com/.