How many ventilators does NJ have — how many more does it need?
A month ago when the COVID-19 crisis began to get serious, New Jersey health officials announced Garden State hospitals and medical centers had 2,000 ventilators and needed to double that total.
Since then, New Jersey has received hundreds of ventilators from the national stockpile.
A few days ago, state health officials said the new total that was needed under worst-case projections was 6,000 ventilators. But on Tuesday it was announced we now need 3,821 ventilators.
Gov. Phil Murphy said Tuesday that the state has asked the feds for 2,500, of which 1,550 have been received. That means New Jersey is still looking to receive 950 additional ventilators from the feds.
As of April 14, 1,626 patients are on ventilators in New Jersey hospitals.
State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said to figure out how many ventilators may be needed, the state is looking at three models every day that consider an assortment of data relating to the rate of infection, the doubling time of infection, the doubling time of hospitalizations and the number of patients in intensive care.
The models use different algorithms to predict infection rates and infection totals, and that information is used to determine how many ventilators may be needed in the days and weeks to come.
“There’s a worst case assumption and there’s a best case assumption and so we’re not just looking at one model, but a handful of models and we’re trying as best we can to figure out exactly where this is headed,” Murphy said.
“We continue to plan for the worst and hope for the best, but the last thing we’re going to do is plan for the best. We can’t do that. That would be abrogating our responsibility.”
Persichilli said “we need 4,000 and then some in reserve and at the present time that’s why we requested the 2,500 originally.”
She noted to make sure we have enough ventilators if there’s an unexpected surge of COVID-19 patients, hospitals have converted anesthesia machines into emergency ventilators. Although anesthesia machines can be converted to ventilators fairly easily, Persichilli said it requires a different kind of monitoring with which not all nurses are familiar.