Photography

Covid-19 outbreak transforms NJ hospital rushing to meet demand

In just over a month, the novel coronavirus has transformed life inside Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, N.J.

Photographer Jeff Rhode had an inside view as the New Jersey hospital took on the crisis, chronicling the ways the staff pulled together for the massive undertaking.

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

It hasn’t been easy. The state has faced an extraordinary outbreak, suffering the second highest death and infection totals in the country after New York. At least 1,932 people have died, and there are 54,588 reported cases of the virus.

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

As projections of covid-19 escalated in March, the hospital quickly increased protective measures. Areas for infected patients were converted into negative pressure spaces, drawing out air to prevent contamination inside.

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

New procedures were put in place to minimize the number of staff needed to enter a patient’s room. Monitoring equipment was placed outside the pressurized room, which reduced the amount of personal protective equipment used from 30 per day to only five to six per day. This helped the hospital conserve a critical resource during a supply shortage.

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Staff describe the independent hospital as a family that has only become closer during the crisis. And the already grueling days take on added emotion when their own staff becomes infected. They recently lost members of the food services and transportation teams to the virus.

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

The wider community has rallied around the hospital staff as well, donating meals and collecting and sewing masks. Artwork by children lines the entrances so staff see it as they arrive to work, and on a few evenings rounds of clapping can be heard as a thank you.

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

With the contagion quickly spreading across the state, contingency plans had to be enacted before the hospital ran out of its 19 ICU beds. “We realized very quickly that our second, third and fourth level plans had to be put into place,” said Chief Medical Officer Adam Jarrett.

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

In less than a week, the team transformed a raw space without electricity or running water into a new ICU that could accommodate 36 additional patients. When those beds immediately filled up, they looked for more areas. They now have 106 ICU beds as they continue to build out to accommodate increasing demand.

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

But Jarrett expects numbers will continue to rise.

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

With the highly contagious novel coronavirus, patients must remain in isolation at the hospital. Family members can only communicate with them over video chat. One of the disease’s most cruel moments is when final goodbyes cannot happen in person.

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Holy Name has had 79 deaths so far.

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Occasionally, over the loudspeaker, the “Rudy” theme song can be heard playing across the hospital. It is a welcome sound, marking the moment a covid-19 patient has been discharged.

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

“It really changes the mood for the nurses and the staff that are taking care of the critically ill,” Jarrett said. “By playing this music, it lets everyone know that sometimes it’s a very difficult battle, but there is an awful lot of victory."

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center

Jeff Rhode/Holy Name Medical Center