Jersey City Medical Center pediatric emergency department
Jersey City Medical Center pediatric emergency department

Jersey City Medical Center, an affiliate of RWJ Barnabas Health, will soon boast a dedicated pediatric emergency room thanks to a multi-million dollar gift from the Abercrombie Guild, a nonprofit organization founded in Jersey City in 1874 to aid the sick residents of Hudson County.

The new pediatric facility doubles the size of the existing E.R. according to JCMC President and CEO Michael Prilutsky and, he added, “delivers on safety and quality with best-in-class care.”

“When I came here five years ago,” Prilutsky said, “the first thing I heard was ‘we need a new E.R.’… The Guild’s gift now makes this possible.”

Dr. Schubert Perotte, JCMC chair of Emergency Medicine and interim chief medical officer, led visitors on a tour through the new secured pediatric E.R. wing, which is segregated from adult E.R. patients.

Patients first will see a row of intake stations for nurses to document each new arrival and any medications prescribed; a cardiac measurement instrument; and a computerized mobile unit that accompanies the patient as he or she is transported for specialized services such as x-ray or MRI.

Opposite the nursing stations are nine curtained pediatric patient rooms each equipped with a bed and stretcher, medical monitors, and a TV. There is also a slightly larger cubicle dedicated for use as a pediatric isolation unit that has its own bathroom.

While the pediatric wing is designed to hold up to ten children at a time, Dr. Perotte noted that the beds “are constantly cycled” to make room for new arrivals.

Asked the rationale for creating a new wing reserved for the hospital’s youngest patients, Dr. Perotte said: “The Jersey City community is growing, and the need for pediatric services is growing just the same.” While admissions as a whole dipped during the peak of the pandemic, those numbers have begun to rebound more recently, he said.

The medical center has expanded its adult E.R. as well.

Mirroring the layout of the pediatric wing, along a separate corridor, are a series of larger rooms, also curtained, designed to handle adult patients, supplemented by several isolation wards with their individualized nursing stations.

The two emergency rooms total 60,000 square feet, of which 7,530 are pediatric. Dr. Perotte said the hospital plans to utilize existing clinical and housekeeping staff to cover the enlarged E.R.

As the hospital prepares to receive arrivals to the newly created E.R. space, already it is putting into motion what Dr. Perotte calls phase 2 of the hospital’s Emergency Services expansion with the creation of a “psychiatric trauma bay,” which should be ready in about a year.

That, in turn, is to be followed by phase 3, provision of a specialized patient observation unit for the bay to help doctors decide whether to discharge or admit the patients brought into it.

Asked for an overview of the JCMC’s recent action, New Jersey Hospital Association Vice President for Communications and Member Services Kerry McKean Kelly offered this perspective: “One of the trends in emergency department design is the creation of specialized areas for certain populations. The emergency department can be a pretty intense place and these specialized E.D.s (Emergency Departments) are designed with the distinct needs of children, the elderly or other groups in mind.”

Guild representative Victoria Samulski, said the group considers it “an honor and privilege to make this our final donation to aid the youngest, most vulnerable members of the community” as it winds down operations.

The Guild, named for its chief founder, Rev. Richard Abercrombie, has also helped finance the hospital’s women’s health satellite and its infusion center for cancer patients, both in Ward E.

JCMC officials are awaiting a state Department of Health inspection of the new E.R. space before it opens to the public.

Photo courtesy of RWJ Barnabas Health

Ron Leir has been a journalist since 1972. That includes a 37-year stint as a reporter, copy reader and assistant editor with The Jersey Journal, followed by a decade as a reporter with The Observer in...