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NJ Officials: Laid-Off South Jersey Nurses, Doctors Could Go North To Fight COVID-19

Doctors, nurses could head to North Jersey to help handle COVID-19 cases, officials said.
Doctors, nurses could head to North Jersey to help handle COVID-19 cases, officials said. Photo Credit: Pixabay

Recently laid-off doctors and nurses from South Jersey could be relocated to North Jersey as the number of cornonavirus patients continued its rapid rise there, the state's health commissioner said Tuesday.

"We need every health care worker that we have in the state and more,” Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Tuesday.

Shore Medical Center in Atlantic County on Monday asked staff to take voluntary layoffs, citing lost revenue due to canceled surgeries and the new cost of buying personal protective equipment (PPE) to battle COVID-19.

State officials were figuring out how to find housing for medical staff interested in moving northward, Perichilli said during Gov. Phil Murphy's daily press briefing on Tuesday.

“Part of that is to get accommodations,” the commissioner said. “Right now we have a team working on that, to get housing for people that would be coming from the southern part of the state to the northern part of the state.”

About half of the state's 19,000 positive COVID-19 cases are clustered in Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Union and Passaic counties.

Hospital bed shortages are burdening the area, roughly two weeks before experts predict the biggest spike in the number of cases.

“If you don’t do over 50 percent of elective surgeries in your hospital, you’re going to have difficulty managing your finances," Persichilli said, "so every single hospital in New Jersey will have difficulty with their finances."

Murphy last week urged retired nurses or doctors, medical and nursing students, EMTs and others with medical training to register with the state as volunteers to staff hospitals.

As of Tuesday, 4,764 people had volunteered, the governor said. 

"We need all hands on deck," he said.

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