The call came on a Friday afternoon. Union City officials needed help turning a parking lot into a drive-through Coronavirus test site. And they wanted it open by Monday morning.
The city block-sized lot they selected had no electric service – meaning the process of conception through energizing had to be done, from scratch, in just two days. Under ordinary circumstances, site inspections alone can take weeks. Given the critical need for testing to help curtail the COVID-19 pandemic, three PSE&G teams rallied and got the job done.
PSE&G supports New Jersey’s pandemic response in a variety of ways that include providing power to field hospitals, inspecting equipment that feeds power to hospitals, practicing social distancing and scheduling essential employees so they can mobilize rapidly.
“Union City is racing to respond to a public health crisis, so we’re doing everything possible to make sure they have the resources to get people the help they need,” said Jose Castellanos, PSE&G Palisades distribution manager in charge of Electric Engineering & Resources. “It’s incredibly satisfying to do whatever we can to support those who are trying to save lives by stopping the spread of this virus.”
According to Castellanos, the PSE&G team of nine included his department, Palisades Overhead Construction and Business Customer Solutions, which worked with Union City’s mayor, city engineers and Office of Emergency Management to accomplish what is typically a weeks-long job in a single weekend.
With the team practicing social distancing and using personal protection equipment to protect against COVID-19, planning meetings took place Friday night. On Saturday, more meetings, electrical work and inspections took place so that PSE&G construction crews could finish installations on Sunday. By Monday morning, patients were driving through the lot to be tested. The city reports hundreds went through within the first three days and the test site now conducts 150 tests daily.
“Union City and PSE&G worked together to provide service to the Hudson County COVID-19 Testing Center for all our residents in record time,” Union City Mayor Brian Stack said. “Thank you, PSE&G, for your help in making this a reality so quickly!”
Serving customers in trying times is part of what PSE&G employees are trained to do, team members said.
“Understanding and listening to the customer’s sense of urgency in navigating this pandemic is what we do. Nothing is impossible at PSE&G,” said Ed Zazzali, regional manager, Business Customer Solutions. “I feel blessed to work for a company that has no silos between different departments. When something needs to be done, our focus becomes the customer. Our ability to focus on these issues gives us all a sense of purpose that makes us proud to be a part of the greater good.”
“It is in our soul, and in our name, Public Service,” Zazzali said.