By KIMBERLY REDMOND
PATERSON, NJ – In a nod to Paterson’s role in the battle against COVID-19, Bergen County and Bergen New Bridge Medical Center recently made a bulk purchase of 110,000 N95 respirators from city-based Protective Health Gear (PHG). The masks, officials said, will help them maintain local stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) in Bergen County.
As previously reported by TAPinto Paterson, with the continued demand for PPE, the company shifted gears earlier this fall to from making “high end retail store fixtures and displays” to producing safety gear for hospitals and local governments.
Now, as the country enters flu season and faces a potential second wave of coronavirus, PHG, which is the first company in New Jersey to receive federal approval under the public health emergency to make masks, has been producing upwards of 50,000 N95 respirators daily.
Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco said keeping an adequate supply of PPE in the county, which was one of the hardest hit areas in the state by the virus, hasn’t been easy.
“Even with the county’s massive purchasing power, one of the earliest challenges we faced was finding vendors that could quickly turn around bulk orders of PPE. It is reassuring that we now have a line to a local manufacturer producing N95 masks only a few miles away,” he said.
Deborah Visconi, President and CEO of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, agreed, saying, “The next few months could be challenging with an uptick in COVID-19 cases and the onset of flu season. Having a local partner who can produce and supply N95 masks is a game changer.”
Since retooling its production line in early September, PHG has taken orders from the Veterans Administration and donated 3,000 masks to the Paterson Police Department, Paterson Fire Department and Paterson Public Schools.
Brian Wolin, PHG’s Chief Executive Officer, said, “This has been a long but exciting process for us.”
“We are proud to be the first company in New Jersey to receive NIOSH approval under the public health emergency to produce N95 filtering face-piece respirators. We are in the business of helping our neighbors so it was our honor to facilitate this purchase with the County of Bergen and Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, the largest public hospital in the state. We look forward to a continuing partnership as we work together to win the battle against COVID-19,” Wolin said.
PHG’s goal is to ramp up its production efforts beyond the 1.5 million masks per month it is currently slated for.
“We have said often that by harnessing Paterson’s past we will secure a stronger future for our city,” Mayor Andre Sayegh said, offering a reminder that PHG is one of several businesses in the city that have shifted production efforts to help address the dwindling supply of PPE for healthcare workers and emergency service personnel. “All of us can be proud of the contribution Protective Health Gear, a Paterson company employing Paterson people, is making to a national effort against COVID-19.”