As hundreds of people are being tested for coronavirus and in certain cases being hospitalized, first responders need to take extra precautions to keep themselves and their family at home safe and healthy too especially those most at risk.

Dr. Ken Sable, M.D., MBA, Regional President, Hackensack Meridian Health, Southern Market, who oversees Jersey Shore University Medical Center, Ocean Medical Center And Southern Ocean Medical Center, says in addition to the basic hygiene practices like washing their hands with soap and water, staff are encouraged to maintain a proper physical distance from that person, even at home.

"If elderly family members are in quarantine, but healthcare workers are obviously on the front lines, we strongly recommend that they maintain physical distancing during the time that they are around those susceptible individuals," Sable said.

Dr. Sable says they have a universal masking policy in place where all team members and patients are being masked at all of their hospitals.

"If there are patients who are high-risk, critical care patients who are positive or suspected positive and undergoing procedures that may require aerosolization such as bronchoscopy or incubation or nebulizer treatments, we are further requiring the use of an N95 respirator mask," Sable said.

There's a beyond urgent need for PPE Gear to protect first responders on the front lines of the covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Sable says they're buying as much PPE Gear as possible while also battling price gouging schemes leaving them without much choice than to overpay for product.

"We're literally paying 15-20 times the going rate for a lot of the equipment in order to get it and you may ask, 'well, isn't that price gouging?', well, it is and we complaint about it while they sell it to somebody else and then we have nothing," Sable said.

On the plus side, Dr. Sable says he's in communication a variety of people who know someone who has PPE Gear including thermometers, face shields and N95 masks.

Dr. Sable says the current stock in their facilities is good enough for a couple weeks, but they're in trouble right now if it's a couple months worth of gear needed.

"We're continuing to buy as much as we can not knowing how long this will be and we're continuing to seek out multiple different venues to supply us because we're not confident that if we have 10-million mask orders coming, whether or not we're going to get all 10-million, we may only get 2-million," Sable said.

He says they'd love to be in a position where it turns out they bought too much gear and didn't end up needing it but "nobody knows right now."

While they're waiting along with many other healthcare providers for their share from the next shipment of the Federal National Stockpile, several local OEM's and EMS agencies among others including the Monmouth County Sheriff's Office are holding donation collection points to gather as much PPE gear as possible.

Jersey Shore Congressman Chris Smith secured 41.3-million medical grade gloves from U.S. Customs and Border Protection to be distributed across the country as well which will provide some help to first responders.

As for rooms and beds, there's a struggle for that as well at the Jersey Shore and beyond.

It's certainly a big concern and Dr. Sable says they're exploring all possible solutions to keep everyone safe and healthy and to treat their virus.

"We have rooms, but we need to make sure that they're outfitted for critical care needs," Sable said. "We need to make sure that we have the equipment, the ventilators and staff such as critical care nurses and doctors that can help us if needed."

Dr. Sable says they're preparing for a possible ventilator shortage by using their anesthesia machines from operating rooms.

They're also looking into ways multiple patients could connect to a single ventilator.

In addition to any PPE Gear supplies you or your organization is able to donate, another way you can help out these hospitals is by getting comfortable on your couch.

"Stay home so that we can do the job that we need to do to keep everybody safe," Sable said.

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