While legislative leaders provided no details when they added the trauma center funding to last year’s budget late in the process — it was not part of Murphy’s original plan — budget documents indicate it was aimed at helping them improve “their ability to respond to future health emergencies or catastrophic events.” Hospital leaders who gathered for a symposium at Rutgers University Thursday said that, as the pandemic recedes, they can now reflect on the past years and start to apply the lessons learned.
“Resilience is critical. We often talk about resilience in response to climate change,” said Stuart Shapiro, interim dean of Rutgers Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy, which hosted the symposium. “But the past two years of COVID-19 have also taught us that resilience very much applies to health care.”
Much of the trauma center funding is slated to support infrastructure upgrades, like expanding bed capacity, creating backup power and upgrading laboratory services. Cooper also hopes to invest in regional partnerships and health-equity efforts. Hackensack Meridian — which proposes to distribute its money among multiple facilities — would commit $5 million to scholarships at its medical schools and other training. Staffing shortages, the leaders agreed, remain a top challenge.