The COVID-19 pandemic may be winding down in New Jersey and the U.S., but it still is a huge health crisis in other parts of the world, including India — where its death toll recently passed 300,000, the third-highest total worldwide.
Health care officials at Englewood Health have been working to address the issue for some time, initiating a cross-departmental effort to gather supplies and equipment for shipment abroad to help health care providers in India safely treat COVID-19 patients and save lives.
When Englewood officials learned state Sen. Vin Gopal (D-Ocean Twp.), through the Vin Gopal Civic Association, and the New Jersey Hospital Association were acting in the same fashion, they came together in a statewide effort.
The group has amassed numerous donations, including ventilators, oxygen concentrators, oxygen generators, IV pumps, pulse oximeters and hundreds of thousands of personal protective equipment items — all the critical supplies needed to support India’s health care teams as they confront an intense COVID outbreak.
NJHA CEO Cathy Bennett said coming together for the good of all is what health care is all about.
“COVID knows no boundaries, and health care is truly a worldwide community,” she said. “In New Jersey, we remember so vividly the sense of relief when other states sent us ventilators back in the pandemic’s darkest days last spring. As global citizens, we’re committed to doing the same for the people of India.”
Dr. Nisha Gandhi, director of the medical-surgical ICU at Englewood Health, said the group understands the issues those in India are facing — having faced similar situations here, she said.
“Having lived through the heart of the pandemic here in New Jersey, I feel the pain that the doctors are going through,” she said. “I understand that they want to help, they have the skillset to help, but just don’t have the equipment and the supplies to provide the appropriate care for the thousands of patients that are dying every day.”
In the spirit of global collaboration, Gopal initiated the call for donations, working through his strong relationships with the Indian American community and contacts in India. The Vin Gopal Civic Association worked with transport companies including Air India to facilitate the shipments. NJHA coordinated efforts among its member hospitals to identify available equipment and supplies and prep them for transport.
About 30 health systems and hospitals stepped forward with donated equipment, as well as cash contributions to support underequipped and overwhelmed Indian hospitals.
“Every single community in every part of the world has been struggling with the effects of COVID-19,” Gopal said. “This is the time for everyone to come together and lend a hand to collectively help those in need.”