Hackensack Meridian Health remembered those lost to COVID-19 and honored heroic front-line teams today as the network marked the one-year anniversary of treating the state’s first COVID-19 patient.

“COVID-19 has upended our world and we have shown that we are Jersey strong and resilient,” said Robert C. Garrett, FACHE, chief executive officer of Hackensack Meridian Health. “We remember all those who fought valiantly against this disease and honor our front-line heroes and innovative spirit that are helping us beat this pandemic.”

Throughout the network, a moment of silence was held at each hospital today to remember all those lost to COVID-19, within the network, the state and the nation. Blue spotlights illuminated each of the network’s 17 hospitals to honor the physicians, nurses, clinical support teams and all those who continue to put patients first in this global crisis. The spotlights will continue for a month.

Hackensack Meridian Health hospitals treated more than 23,000 patients, more than any other network in the state and 80 percent recovered. More than 133,000 people were tested for the virus in network hospitals.

We believe that innovations, including our COVID-19 PCR test and our high-titer convalescent plasma program, helped to make a positive difference,” said Daniel Varga, M.D., chief physician executive of Hackensack Meridian Health. “Given the uncertainty we face going forward, regarding vaccine durability along with any role virus variants might play, we must remain vigilant, monitoring local conditions and scientific findings, while providing equitable care and education for the people in the communities we serve.”

Hackensack Meridian Health began administering COVID-19 vaccines in December 2020, starting with frontline team members. The network is delivering a total 5,000 to 6,000 vaccines daily at hospitals and other sites throughout New Jersey, including the mega site in Bergen County.

Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine students volunteer in the vaccination effort. Some contributed to a task force of real-time online medical research. Others took part in planning with underserved school districts in New Jersey as part of the Support Our Schools program.

The network has also developed and implemented Keeping America Safe: Hackensack Meridian Health’s Assist Program, helping business owners and schools to navigate the pandemic and create a safe environment for employees and customers by sharing best practices with companies regarding safety measures, cleanliness, education, and testing.

New Jersey has lost more than 20,000 people to COVID-19. More than one-half million people in the United States have lost their lives to the virus.


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