When COVID-19 surfaced in New Jersey, Bergen County was the pandemic’s epicenter. The Medical Center swiftly applied policies and practices to help contain COVID-19, including restricted visitation, responsible PPE management, and mandatory masking for all employees.
We expanded our telemedicine program to continue providing services for all the communities we serve while protecting our patients, residents, staff, and the communities we serve. More than 35 telehealth professionals scheduled COVID-19 tests and helped patients understand and act on the results. This tactic was vital for the containment of the rapidly spreading virus.
As the pandemic surged, the need for more intensive care capacity in New Jersey threatened to overwhelm hospitals with COVID-19 patients. In partnership with the US Army Corps of Engineers, we increased our capacity by 130 beds in two innovative alternate care treatment centers. Thus, Bergen New Bridge could continue caring for non-COVID-19 patients while ensuring ICU space for those admitted with COVID-19.
Our Community Health Team offers COVID-19 testing throughout Bergen County
We quickly became a leader in COVID-19 testing, a critical part of the plan to safely re-open the state. We were the first medical center to open drive-through testing and use the Rutgers saliva test. We were one of the first in New Jersey to offer COVID-19 antibody tests as another weapon in our arsenal against the virus. In late May 2020, we launched and staffed a mobile testing program in partnership with Bergen County – bringing COVID-19 testing to local communities, particularly those underserved and heavily affected by the outbreak.
Alternative Care Annex vaccination site
In late 2020, with a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, Bergen New Bridge converted the Alternate Care Annex into a vaccination site. On December 18, 2020, Bergen New Bridge delivered its first vaccines to hospital staff. We quickly initiated multiple simultaneous vaccination programs while continuing an essential COVID-19 testing program.
We remained true to our mission to provide our underserved communities with the care and services they desperately need. We formed the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Team with our partners — The County of Bergen, The Bergen Coalition of Black Clergy, and Greater Bergen Community Action —to provide education about and access to the COVID-19 vaccines. We were instrumental in improving the vaccination numbers for our at-risk black and brown, Asian, Muslim, Latinx, LGTBQ+, and seniors communities.