Middlesex County Freeholder Director Christopher D. Rafano announced Saturday that the county is opening a larger, more advanced regional shelter for residents having special medical needs. This will alleviate overloads at the smaller local shelters and area hospitals in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
The new shelter, which will provide sub-acute medical care to about 250 residents from the region including Middlesex, Monmouth and Union counties, will be located in the gymnasium at Middlesex County College, 2600 Woodbridge Ave. in Edison.
“In working with Middlesex County College President Joann La Perla-Morales and our County Emergency Management personnel, we have identified an optimal location for a shelter,” Freeholder Director Rafano said. “The location already has kitchen, restroom and locker facilities, and plenty of open space and smaller areas to provide effective patient care.”
Rafano said the shelter will be up and fully operational by the end of the weekend and will be managed by medical professionals deployed by the federal government, with support from personnel from the Middlesex County Office of Health Services. All costs associated with staffing and running the shelter will be paid for by the federal government.
“This is an incredible team effort to serve our community, help our hospitals and keep everyone safe,” Rafano said. “I commend President La Perla-Morales and our Department of Public Safety and Health for their rapid response in making this resource available to our residents.”
“Middlesex County College is a proud member of the community, and opening our facility for this use is one way we can help our neighbors recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy,” La Perla-Morales said. “It’s really through the incredible efforts of our Facilities Management staff, led by Mr. Don Drost, executive director, that we were able to transform so quickly our gymnasium into a place where people can receive care.”
The first patients to be brought to the shelter will be those with medical needs currently in local shelters and then those from area hospitals, which are experiencing patient overloads in their emergency rooms.
Once the shelter occupants and hospital patients are accommodated, remaining beds will be offered to people in the community in need of medical assistance.
The building has full power and generator back up, it is centrally located in the county, and has all the facilities necessary to run a medical facility.
It will be open for two weeks. The county may request that it remain open longer if the need exists.
While the shelter is being run out of the gymnasium, all Middlesex County College basketball games will be played in Woodbridge Township high schools. There will be no interruption to the schedule.
Since the onset of Hurricane Sandy, Middlesex residents with medical needs have been able to find shelter in the Woodbridge Senior Center or Our Lady of Most Holy Rosary Church in Hopelawn. To date, these shelters have been able to provide assistance to over 200 Middlesex County residents.
“We are happy to help the County,” said Woodbridge Mayor John E. McCormac. “As usual, the Freeholders’ primary concern is the health and safety of the residents, and if we can help, we are happy to.”
“This is one more example of how Middlesex County and its partners are working together to get through this difficult time,” Rafano said.
The college is located at 2600 Woodbridge Ave., Edison.