Welcome Back: Robert Wood University Hospital Rahway


Kirk C. Tice, President and CEO of RWJ University Hospital Rahway

We’re back, and our hope is that you’ll be back with us as well. Over the last two-and-a-half months we’ve been through a lot, and you’ve been through a lot, and we’ve all done the hard work to create a safe environment both here and in your communities.

We are truly concerned that not that you’ve neglected your health, but that you’ve been so afraid to come to the facility over the course of the last several months that you put things off that you really should be paying attention to now. Used to be you could come to hospital to have your lab work, or your x-ray work, or physical therapy appointment or radiology – or whatever it happened to be, you could just walk in and get that done at the time. And now in order to manage – to make sure that we can control the environment, and that we can control the numbers of people that are here and therefore, keep the environment safe, we’re going to ask you to make an appointment. So you call our central scheduling line to make that appointment.

If you come here and you don’t have an appointment, and we can accommodate you, we certainly will that at the time if it’s safe and if not, we’ll give you an appointment for later that day, or the very next day.

We’ve done a lot to make this environment safe when we’re welcoming you back for outpatient services, same day surgery, and different diagnostics that you put off during the course of the last two and half months and some of the things we did and learned during the course of this pandemic have created a safer environment. As we go forward, some off the negative pressure rooms and the ductwork that you see on the outside of the hospital really isn’t just for the pandemic, but will create a safer environment as we go forward, and all patients will benefit from that.

Two-and-a-half months ago, we were 120 percent occupied and 90 percent of the patients in the positive were COVID positive. Today, we have one patient that is COVID positive and have learned about masking and temperature taking, and the way we can keep our staff and keep you safe.

When our employees or staff come in in the morning we do a few things. We take their temperature, we ask them about signs and symptoms that would be to the COVID virus, and we’re going to do the same thing with you, right? We’re going to try to identify the people who have a temperature, or have signs or symptoms that would be consistent with the COVID virus, and if that happens, we’re going to send them to their providers so that they can get care and make sure that they either have the virus or don’t have the virus. But whatever they’ve found out to have, we make sure that they’re taken care of safely.

If you’re going to have a same-day surgery procedure, again, that’s scheduled largely through your physician’s office with our operating room staff. You’ll have a PAT – pre-admission testing process where you’ll receive certain types of tests. One of those tests is going to be a test to determine whether or not you have the COVID virus, so that when you come in, we’re assured you don’t have the virus, and that we can treat you safely and effectively in our surgical environment.

We still have a no visitor policy right now, and that’s something that we’re taking a look at, and we’ll be guided by guidance that comes out of the Governor’s office. But if you’re coming in for a surgical procedure, and you need assistance during that procedure, you can bring someone with you to provide you with that assistance.

In the first time I spoke to you, I talked about how the staff was amazing, and how the community was amazing. I am still truly awestruck by the work that the staff did during the course of the last two-and-a-half months, and by the support and the work that the community did. I mean, everyone has paid attention to social distancing, and been wearing their masks, which is why in New Jersey, and particularly in the community that we service, we’ve seen such a significant decrease in the number of COVID positive patients over the past couple of months.

I couldn’t be more appreciative of the work that the staff and the community has done. There’s been a real partnership between the two in order to make sure that we have a safe environment then, now, and as we go forward.

You’ve taken every precaution and so have we. Welcome back.