In May, in response to the COVID nursing home crisis, including the devastating impact on New Jersey nursing homes, a number of propositions and promises were made by N.J. Legislators to address a crisis brought on by missteps and failures by both the state and its long-term care facilities. But according to an article on NJ.com, as of mid-July, when numbers have proven only to worsen, no action has been taken by the New Jersey State Legislature to resolve issues or make improvements that could curb the spread of the virus among the state’s most vulnerable citizens.
In July, total COVID-19 deaths in New Jersey nursing homes soared to the highest in the nation (nearly 6,700) and nursing home deaths comprised half of N.J. virus deaths for the month, up from 40 percent in previous months.
The failures of N.J. Legislators outlined by the article include:
- Not one hearing has been held by the bipartisan committee formed in May to explore solutions.
- Supposedly fast-tracked hearings by a Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee have yet to be announced.
- Despite the fact that weeks have elapsed since outside consultants provided feedback to the state Department of Health with recommendations for change, no proposals for legislative initiatives have been introduced.
- Nursing home workers continue to lack personal protective equipment and do not have access to coronavirus testing.
Some posit that the delays reflect a careful approach by legislators in the midst of an ongoing crisis. Others disagree.
“This reeks of business as usual in Trenton,” said Milly Silva, executive vice president of United Healthcare Workers East, which represents 8,000 nursing home workers in New Jersey.
While the governor’s office declined to comment on the Legislature’s inaction, Dan Bryan, a spokesman for Gov. Phil Murphy, said many proposals for regulator changes have been made by Manatt Health, the consultants hired by the administration to review and propose remedies for the state’s oversights regarding N.J. nursing homes. The recommendations outlined by Manatt have informed a legislative package that lawmakers in the state Assembly say they are looking to have passed by the end of August. As some health experts continue to warn about a potential resurgence of the coronavirus in the fall, this legislative package is viewed by the Assembly as an effort to improve emergency preparedness, response, and communication for the state and its long-term care facilities. The bills will also address nursing home staffing, a problem in N.J. nursing homes long before the pandemic hit.
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More than ever before, it’s important to ensure that your loved one’s New Jersey or Pennsylvania nursing home meets every standard for safety and quality care. If you’re concerned about the quality of a Philadelphia/PA or NJ facility during the coronavirus pandemic, or if you suspect neglect or abuse has occurred at the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, or New Jersey nursing home where your loved one lives, please contact nursing home abuse attorney Brian P. Murphy to discover your legal rights and options.