Quarterly municipal meetings for family members. Greater disclosure regarding emergency response and staff compensation. State employees to serve as resident attorneys for each establishment.
These are among the changes coming to the three New Jersey-run veterans homes, thanks to a package of bills signed Thursday night by Gov. Phil Murphy. The three facilities at Menlo Park, Paramus and Vineland have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 150 residents have died and family members have struggled to get up-to-date information from administrators.
So many deaths
Almost a third of the more than 27,000 deaths from COVID-19 in New Jersey can be traced to gathered living places like nursing homes, a situation that has raised concerns among health experts and urged state lawmakers to hold hearings on the response to the pandemic. These sessions involved passionate testimonials from family members, frontline workers and industry leaders, and led to dozens of proposals to improve infection control and staff training, improve communication with patients. families and strengthen government oversight of these operations.
The New Jersey attorney general’s office is currently investigating the response to COVID-19 outbreaks in nursing homes across the state. The federal Department of Justice has launched an investigation into the homes of veterans in Menlo Park and Paramus, which have claimed the most lives. Both of these investigations appear to be ongoing.
“Everyone knew from the start of the pandemic that the most vulnerable populations were in nursing homes and veterans’ homes,” said Sen. Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex), who led the charge on several reforms, in a press release. âIn the future, we need to pay more attention and devote additional resources to these facilities. We also need to ensure that they are led by people with the right qualifications and work experience. We cannot allow these residents to be forgotten victims of the most tragic public health crisis of our time. “
New reception measures for ex-combatants
Many of the nursing home reforms have now been codified as law; Additional measures for the veterans’ home that Murphy signed on Thursday include:
- A-5849 / S-3918 – Requires the adjutant general of the state’s Department of Military and Veterans Affairs (DMAVA) to send weekly reports to the state health commissioner on veterans’ homes that the department operates during each future public health emergency. Reports related to COVID-19 will be required until December 2021.
- A-5850 / S-3906 – Requires DMAVA veterans’ homes to hold quarterly meetings with family members or other resident guardians.
- A-5851 / S-3905 – Allows family members of a resident to remove the veteran from a DMAVA home in certain emergency circumstances; this was not allowed during the pandemic due to strict infection control requirements.
- A-5852 / S-3904 – Requires DMAVA Veterans Memorial Homes to communicate resident updates to family members through at least two means of communication, including paper mail, email, text and l voice call.
- A-5853 / S-3903 – Requires the administrator and deputy administrator of each veterans home to have prior clinical work experience.
- A-5854 / S-3907 – Requires DMAVA to create a âresident lawyerâ position in state government for each veterans household; this person is responsible for advocating for residents on issues related to operations in each of the homes, much like the nursing home advocates that New Jersey has strived to deploy in recent years.
- A-5855 / S-3908 – Requires DMAVA veterans’ homes to provide pay-based log information to the state’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman, an office that advocates for residents and families.
- A-5856 / S-3909 – Requires the Director of the Veterans Health Services Division of DMAVA to have previous clinical and long-term care experience.