As the longest federal government shutdown in American history climbs towards a fourth week, countless non-profits and organizations in New Jersey are putting a hand out to help furloughed workers who aren't being paid and thus receive the money to pay bills and get groceries or baby food.

The shutdown impacts 800,000 federal employees, including 5,000 New Jersey residents.

Hackensack Meridian Health Care has announced they are waiving co-pays and deductibles for emergency visits at all network hospitals and urgent care centers for furloughed federal employees and their insured family members.

Furloughed federal employees and their covered family members can seek emergency care at Hackensack Meridian Health’s 17 hospitals and its vast network of urgent care centers without incurring the cost of co-pays and deductibles.

The policy goes into effect today.

“We have seen the financial impact the federal government shut down has had on many families and we want to ensure that people will receive the care they need without worrying about the cost,’’ Bob Garrett, CEO of Hackensack Meridian Health, said. “We believe that we need to step forward and do our part to help furloughed federal employees and their families."

Garrett tells WOBM News that it's important to help these employees in their time of need.

"We need to support the people who have supported and protected us and protected our nation and support us by running our government each and every day," Garrett said. "This is their time of need and we want to try to help them."

The policy enacted today will stay in place as long as the government shutdown lasts.

"If any of these people need emergency care or urgent care and they're not receiving a paycheck, they won't have to worry about those out of pocket expenses," Garrett said.

Their network reaches two-thirds of the state population.

In addition to 17 hospitals, Hackensack Meridian has more than 500 patient locations from Bergen to Ocean counties.

However, Garrett is hoping other healthcare systems will follow their lead in helping these employees.

"Hackensack Meridian certainly covers a large territory but we really need everybody's help in this regard and this is the time to really support our government workers in their time of need," Garrett said.

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