Mandate layoffs, high rate of omicron leads New Jersey to request federal medical ‘strike forces’ to staff hospitals and health facilities

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With hospitals and long-term care facilities experiencing staff shortages across New Jersey, New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said she is requesting federal strike force teams to assist. Medical facilities statewide are experiencing COVID-related sick calls on top of hundreds of employees who have been terminated for vaccine non-compliance.

“Hospitals and long-term care facilities throughout the state are experiencing large staff shortages due to COVID. As a result, the Department and the state Office of Emergency Management are working with FEMA on requests for federal strike teams to support hospitals and with the New Jersey National Guard for strike teams for our long-term care facilities,” Persichilli said. “We are getting many inquiries also about setting up field medical stations as we did in April of 2020. Our experience and lessons learned from the first surge taught us that expanding capacity off the site of hospitals actually strained the clinical staff, so we will keep the staff close to the hospitals by adding capacity in and around our existing hospital campuses allowing us to manage the volume of patients more effectively and efficiently with the goal of assuring that all patients get the care they require.”

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New Jersey State Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan said the state is also seeking 10 strike teams consisting of 15 members in each unit to reach out into urban communities to establish field medical stations to accommodate the surge in omicron infections.

“We are still pushing for those 10 strike teams of 15 members each, which would be able to literally go and do those rounds. We hope that that 150-person request that we put through through FEMA and HHS will review and hopefully come to an approval on that because we can set up all the beds we want,” he said. “If we don’t have the medical staff to go out there and take care of patients, it’s really going to be all for naught. That is almost an hourly conversation between Judy’s team and certainly our All Hazards Incident Management Team, and whether that’s beds, the equipment to support it – I think we had upwards of 2,000 beds last year from both the mothballed hospitals that we renovated as well as the field medical stations and that we’re in the process of just making sure that we’re ready to go.”

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