MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – Morris County and Atlantic Health System delivered the last inoculation Friday at the Morris County Regional COVID-19 Vaccination Center, while the Morris County COVID-19 Testing facility operated with Vault Health at the County College of Morris also closed operations Friday.
The last vaccination was provided shortly after noon, prompting a spontaneous applause among 200 state, county, medical personnel and volunteers who worked the center until the last minute and gathered to say their final goodbyes afterward.
“Our job here was to put ourselves out of business as soon as possible,” said Scott DiGiralomo, Director of the Morris County Department of Law and Public Safety, who coordinated the center operations.
The percentage of residents vaccinated in Morris County has been leading the state and, at some points over the past two months, the nation as the center issued as many as 4,600 inoculations per day along with thousands of other vaccinations provided daily by smaller clinics in the county.
Likewise, the testing facility at CCM once accommodated hundreds of people each day after it opened last fall. However, while the pandemic is not yet over, the emergent need for testing and vaccinations provided through public and private partnerships has subsided.
“Throughout the pandemic, Atlantic Health System has remained committed to always being ready to deliver the highest quality care for our patients and serving our communities,” said Kevin Lenahan, Executive Vice President, Chief Business and Strategy Officer, Atlantic Health System. “When given the opportunity to partner with Morris County and the State of New Jersey in operating the Morris County Regional Vaccination Center, our inspiring team of nurses, physicians and care givers jumped at the chance to take the fight to the virus and help deliver light at the end of the pandemic’s long tunnel. On behalf of our entire 18,000 team members, we want to thank the county and state for their partnership and professionalism as we worked together to keep hundreds of thousands of people healthy and safe.”
The vaccination center opened January 8 at the Rockaway Townsquare Mall in an empty Sears department store. It involved a partnership between Morris County, Atlantic Health System, the State of New Jersey, the New Jersey Army National Guard, the Medical Reserve Corps, the Morris County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies.
“It really is truly a joyous moment. It is just phenomenal what took place here and this is the culmination of that tremendous work. It really did make a difference in people’s lives,” said Morris County Commissioner Director Stephen Shaw, who visited the center to congratulate the workers,
When the last vaccine was administered Friday, the Regional COVID-19 Vaccination Center had issued more than 340,000 shots. More than 21,000 COVID-19 tests had been administered at the Morris County COVID-19 Testing Center at CCM since it first opened in December.
“This is closure to an amazing effort during an historic pandemic, and Morris County rose to the challenge,” said Commissioner John Krickus, who also joined the center workers on their final day.
“I don’t think we really knew what we were getting into when we moved into an empty department store and took it and transformed it into what I would say was the best vaccination site in the state of New Jersey,” said Commissioner Douglas Cabana, the board liaison to health issues.
“Our people were living there six months, spending their holidays there. Just the stories I’ve heard about our folks stepping up to the plate. People would fall out to say what a wonderful experience they had there, as compared to other vaccination. They did a great job there. It’s a shame, in a way, that it’s going to close,” he added.