Staff and drug shortages hit NJ hospitals as COVID surges
COVID illness is impacting New Jersey healthcare providers from both a capacity and staffing standpoint.
With hospitalizations due to COVID on pace to surpass 3,000 this week, hospitals are again being stressed on available beds. New Jersey had 244 patients on ventilators with nearly 500 listed in intensive care units.
The sharp increase in hospitalizations has caused some hospitals to begin diverting patients to other healthcare facilities.
Further stressing the healthcare system is a shortage of workers. A growing number of hospital staffers have been infected by this latest COVID wave.
Infections and exposures have taken 600 employees out of service across the Hackensack Meridian Health hospital network. Hospital officials tell News12 they have been moving staff around to cover the shortages.
Smaller healthcare facilities are also experiencing severe manpower shortages.
CityMD has closed some of its clinics for the second week in a row due to staffing issues. Locations in Manahawkin, Jersey City, Raritan, Wayne and Oakland are listed as closed on the company website. No reopening dates have been given.
The closures come as demand for COVID testing, which CityMD does, has risen sharply. Lines have been long at government and private testing locations across New Jersey. There has also been a shortage of home testing kits.
Shortages of therapies
Also in short supply is one of the earliest and most effective treatments for COVID patients: monoclonal antibodies.
New Jersey's largest hospital network, RWJBarnabas Health is severely limiting the use of monoclonal antibody therapy to patients 65 years of age or older and those with severely compromised immune systems.
Other hospitals have stopped using the therapy altogether because they have run out of supply.
The maker of the most used monoclonal antibody therapy, GlaxoSmithKline, says they will ship another 300,000 doses in January.
Pfizer recently won approval for a new at-home treatment for COVID that can be taken in pill form, but supplies of the drug are also limited. There are also concerns over severe side effects from PAXLOVID as well as potentially serious drug interactions.
Omicron impact on COVID cases in NJ
Counting down New Jersey's top 15 weather stories of 2021