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Bright Side Covid-19 Recent News

Bellmawr Native & Rutgers-Camden 2020 Grad, Joe Lutz, Works on the Front Line of COVID-19 Pandemic

Editor’s note: This article was written by Jeanne Long for Rutgers-Camden News Now

As a paramedic, Joseph Lutz plays a vital role in treating the sick and injured in emergencies, but during the coronavirus pandemic, his job has evolved into handling patient care in a hospital and performing an administrative role in setting up a field hospital in Secaucus.

When coronavirus cases began rising in New Jersey, the Rutgers University‒Camden biology student was mainly performing his usual paramedic duties at University Hospital in Newark, where he is employed.

By early April, the hospital’s emergency department was overwhelmed with patients with COVID-19, so the hospital re-assigned Lutz and other paramedics to assist nurses.

“I was working in our emergency dispatch center, when we received a call from hospital administration stating that the situation in the emergency department was dire,” says Lutz, of Bellmawr. “There were many extremely sick patients, and not enough nurses.”

That day, he spent eight hours attending to patients on ventilators.

Joe Lutz and his wife, Michelle, who is also a paramedic. (Photo credit: Rutgers-Camden News Now)

During the coronavirus pandemic, as the need skyrocketed for hospital beds for extremely sick patients, New Jersey received federal assistance to create the Federal Medical Shelter (FMS) located in Secaucus. Since early April, Lutz has been intimately involved in the operations of FMS and the North Region Medical Coordination Center, a space created after Sept. 11, 2001, to coordinate medical response to major medical situations. Lutz and his colleagues facilitated moving more than 250 patients from northern New Jersey hospitals to the shelter to make space for more seriously ill patients who required treatment in a hospital.

“There is no doubt that this process of opening up hospital beds for sicker patients saved lives,” says Lutz.

A Bellmawr native, Lutz lived in South Jersey until his first year of high school, when he and his mother moved to North Brunswick.

As a teenager, Lutz became interested in helping others. With his sharp technical skills, he became a website designer in high school, earning enough money to help his mom pay their living expenses. While he continued designing websites, he decided to drop out of school. In 2002, he earned his GED. 

After working as an emergency medical technician at Bellmawr EMS for several years, Lutz attended Camden County College to complete a paramedic training certificate program. His success in class inspired him to further his education, earning an associate’s degree in applied sciences as he continued working full-time as a paramedic at Bellmawr EMS. 

He returned to Camden County College in 2012 to study biology, but working full-time at night and attending classes full-time during the day, left him little time for sleep, so he dropped out for several years, got married, and then returned to school full-time. He completed his associate’s degree in biology in 2018, six years after he started.

He credits his Rutgers‒Camden education in giving him experience in research and data analysis.

Lutz was among the MCC health care professionals who appeared at Gov. Phil Murphy’s daily televised coronavirus briefing on May 9 to present information about the center’s operations and plasma treatment for COVID-19 patients at University Hospital. Lutz created two of the charts that the president/CEO of University Hospital, Shereef Elnahal, presented at Gov. Murphy’s briefing.

Joe Lutz (far left) at Gov. Murphy’s televised daily briefing on May 9, 2020 (Photo credit: Rutgers-Camden News Now)

“A few years ago, I would have been of little more use than providing patient care – which is also very important,” says Lutz. “Today, I am able to take on an administrative role and influence the care and outcomes of many more patients because of what I have learned from Rutgers‒Camden professors.

As Lutz receives his bachelor of science degree in biology and health science from Rutgers‒Camden, it is not the end of his formal education. He plans to attend medical school to become a physician.

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Covid-19 Recent News

Camden County Health Dept. Rectifies COVID-19 Cases From State

For the last two weeks the Camden County Department of Health (DOH) has been working to reconcile 897 cases of coronavirus (COVID-19), stretching back to late April, from the New Jersey Department of Health.

The cases have been caught in variety of reporting traps and are one of the significant reasons the state continues to report higher numbers for confirmed cases than the county.

The Camden County Health Department receives its data from the state’s Communicable Disease Reporting and Surveillance System (CDRS). After a resident is tested for COVID-19, their case data is first placed in the system by the lab that receives that test. After processing the test, the lab transmits the positive result into the CDRS system. However, once that information is confirmed, it can still lack significant primary identifying case structure information based on the lab data entry. The county DOH then takes whatever information the lab provides out of CDRS and moves forward with its contact tracing investigation, and per Attorney General guidelines, provides pertinent information to the computer aided dispatch system of local law enforcement. 

There are several interconnected events that have led to the confirmed case backlog:

  • New labs have created challenges in reporting statewide;  
  • Many of these cases were labeled in different jurisdictions;
  • Hundreds of cases were given to the Health Department from multiple unit dwellings with the same address without an apartment number; 
  • Many include individuals who were tested for COVID-19 multiple times; and
  • The state reporting system was never created for this level of use and has created delays in reporting.

Camden County Health Officer, Dr. Paschal Nwako, talked about the process and ensuring the integrity of reporting.

“We have gone through a variety of challenges in getting our numbers throughout this pandemic. This process was time consuming and warranted so we could confirm the proper case count that reflects the state’s numbers and harmonizes our metrics with our counterparts at the state,” Nwako said. “Moving forward, we will continue to update residents on a daily basis on what the labs and the state are providing us and continue to ensure the most accurate information can be found on our website throughout this pandemic.”  

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Bright Side Covid-19 Feature Stories Recent News

Capturing Unique Family Images with ‘Porchraits’

Abdullah Anderson, Sr., Octacia Anderson, Abdullah Anderson, Jr., and Amira Anderson of Galloway stocked up on supplies, curriculum and exercise during their quarantine. Abdullah, Jr. has a special reason to make sure he keeps in shape – he plays defensive end for the Chicago Bears football team. (Photo provided by Photography by Randee)

Margate, New Jersey (May 11, 2020) – With schools across the nation experiencing canceled classes, sporting events, proms and graduations, Atlantic City High School teacher Randee Rosenfeld decided to spend her spring break photographing South Jersey family ‘porchraits.’

As the owner of Photography by Randee, she knows the impact and memories a photograph brings to individuals and families. In her business, she usually photographs beach portraits, weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and more. So, when the pandemic struck, she shifted her business focus in a new photography direction with the Front Porch Project which was being done around the country.

Photographer Randee Rosenfeld, wearing her custom face mask, photographed 65 families throughout Atlantic County in their unique ‘porchraits.’ (Photo provided by Photography by Randee)

With the help of social media, she started a quest to capture the poignant porch moments of families throughout Atlantic County – Margate, Linwood, Northfield, Galloway, Absecon, Ventnor, Somers Point, Egg Harbor Township, Smithville, Brigantine and Mays Landing – and her campaign paid off. All total, Randee photographed 65 one-of-a-kind family porch portraits.

With many individuals and families sheltering at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, being able to gather outside and express yourself in pictures was a fun and engaging way for people to come together for a keepsake image.

While no payment for the portrait was required, families could make a donation to Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties.

Pictured left to right: Ella Marie, Patrick John and Emma Grace Freehan of Brigantine celebrated their three Class of 2020 graduations together. Photo provided by Photography by Randee)

“There are many people offering acts of kindness in some fashion or another. I knew that by taking pictures, individuals and families would have a memento when they share their story with future generations about this time in their lives,” said Randee Rosenfeld. “I wanted to give people something tangible, and also support a wonderful organization like JFS, and this idea made the perfect project,” she added.

In total, Randee collected donations of nearly $2,000 which will help support JFS’ services and programs our community needs during this unprecedented time.

Pictured left to right: The rollerblading family of Russel, Danielle, Ella and Abby Bergeron of Galloway found a great way to use some essential household supplies while taking a break to play a friendly game of cards. Photo provided by Photography by Randee

For more information on how you can help JFS or make a secure on-line donation, visit jfsatlantic.org.

About Jewish Family Service

Jewish Family Service of Atlantic & Cape May Counties (JFS) encourages strong families, thriving children, healthy adults, energized seniors and vital communities. With dozens of program areas, JFS specializes in counseling, mental health services, homeless programs, vocational services, adult and older adult services and also hosts an on-site food pantry.

The agency impacts 8,000 lives throughout Atlantic and Cape May Counties each year.

JFS’ mission is to motivate and empower people to realize their potential and enhance their quality of life. In keeping with Jewish values and the spirit of tikkun olam (healing the world), JFS provides services with integrity, compassion, respect and professionalism regardless of their religion, race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age or background.
For more information or to keep up-to-date with JFS events and programs, visit www.jfsatlantic.org or follow on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.