Frequently Asked Questions
1. Aren’t hospitals filled with COVID-19 patients?
NJ hospitals have the space, staff, and supplies to care for all patients. Hospitals have continued to care for non-COVID-19 cases throughout the public health emergency, including life-saving surgeries, births, trauma services, and emergency care. NJ hospitals safely cared for nearly 350,000 people with non-COVID-19 needs at the pandemic height in March and April. In April, COVID-19 patients represented just 20 percent of the total number of patients in NJ hospitals, and COVID-19 admissions to hospitals continue to decline. In September, COVID-19 admissions represented less than 5% of patients in NJ hospitals.
2. What changes are hospitals making to protect people?
From our survey outcomes, we know what is important to you, and our hospitals are vigilant with their precautions, protections, and safety protocols to protect patients and staff. We have changed the physical space within hospitals to better serve you during this time and for the future. Waiting areas have been reconfigured to allow social distancing, physical barriers have been added, and hospitals have strict “cohorting” processes to ensure that individuals with COVID-19 are cared for in entirely separate units than others. Hospitals also are using best practices in infection control and prevention, and environmental services to decontaminate spaces. You’ll also see people throughout the hospital wearing face masks – staff and patients alike. It’s part of hospitals’ added precautions to ensure patient and community safety and provide some extra peace of mind.
3. How will hospitals protect against COVID-19 that exists in our surrounding communities?
Understanding how COVID-19 is spread is one of the best ways to keep you and others safe. Each NJ hospital has a team of infection prevention and control experts that specialize in preventing and treating illnesses that can spread from person to person. These infectious disease experts guide the work of hospitals, protecting patients, visitors, and staff, and ensure that NJ hospitals follow the most current, best safety protocols.
In addition to each hospital’s infection prevention and control expertise, NJ hospitals follow or exceed the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the New Jersey Department of Health, and local departments of public health.
4. What are hospitals doing to protect healthcare workers on the frontlines?
People entering the hospital – patients, staff, support persons, vendors – undergo screenings, including temperature checks, to check for any symptoms of COVID-19. Hospitals also are rebuilding their stockpiles of personal protective equipment like K95 respirators, gowns, face shields and goggles. State rules require hospitals to have a 90-day stockpile of PPE to protect both staff and patients. In addition, frontline staff continue to have ongoing education and training as we gain more understanding of this new virus and the most effective means of treatment and transmission prevention. Hospitals also use concepts of “high reliability organizations” which are built on creating a culture of safety and engaging every member of the hospital team in processes to ensure patient safety. And finally, hospitals are mounting flu vaccination drives throughout their facilities as an important preventive measure to avoid a “twindemic” of seasonal influenza and COVID-19.
5. What can I expect if I’m scheduled to go to the hospital for a procedure or surgery?
Protecting NJ’s healthcare heroes is a top priority. Fortunately, the supply chain for personal protective equipment (PPE) has improved, and hospitals can keep their staff protected while rebuilding their inventory. State guidelines require hospitals to have at least a certain level of PPE for their employees before resuming elective procedures. In addition, hospitals have employee screening and testing programs in place, which help protect the health of employees and patients.
Learn more about safety protocols NJ hospitals are following and links to our hospital members for additional guidelines.
6. Are visitors allowed in the hospital?
7. Would it be better if I just delay a medical procedure for now?
Your health is essential. If you don’t feel 100% – or you have a chronic condition that you manage regularly – it is important to get the right diagnosis or treatment so you can feel your best. Putting off healthcare may complicate your condition or make your recovery more difficult. The time to schedule (or reschedule) an appointment is now! In an emergency, call 911 or visit your nearest hospital emergency room. No doubt, these are unusual times. But, NJ hospitals are still safe places to visit, remaining vigilant in preventing COVID-19 with stringent infection prevention and control protocols. Do not delay care because of COVID-19 concerns – NJ hospitals are dedicated to your personal health and will help you with your healthcare needs.
8. Is it the right time to resume more services?
At COVID-19’s peak in NJ, only 20 percent of patients in NJ hospitals were being treated for COVID-19. Since May, that number has steadily declined and today is less than 5%. NJ hospitals continue to monitor and report COVID-19 activity each day. That information is used in health planning activities to ensure ongoing preparedness, both in caring for patients and in preventing transmission.