Senator Joe Pennacchio said a new report shows the Murphy administration is still failing to protect residents of State-run veterans homes nearly three years after hundreds of residents died due to gross mismanagement at the start of the pandemic.
“As we prepare to celebrate Veterans Day later this week, the new report is a sad reminder that the Murphy administration continues to fail in its duty to protect the residents of the Menlo Park Veterans Memorial Home,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “It’s shocking to hear that residents have been physically and verbally abused by their supposed caregivers. It’s also beyond belief that they still haven’t implemented effective infection control procedures after nearly 200 residents died in veterans homes at the start of the pandemic. Our veterans deserve so much better.”
Health inspectors were sent to the Menlo Park facility after it was revealed in August that a large COVID-19 outbreak starting around Thanksgiving of 2021 had resulted in the deaths of another 19 veterans.
According to NJ.com, 45% of the workforce and one-third of the residents at Menlo Park were infected due to a failure to quickly implement infection controls once people started getting sick.
In addition to finding “a serious and immediate threat to the safety and well-being” of residents, inspectors found untrained caregivers and instances of physical and verbal abuse of residents. The findings were detailed in a nearly 300-page report.
Pennacchio said the continuing failures are a result of the Murphy administration never being investigated or held accountable for massive pandemic mismanagement.
“Every effort to understand what went wrong in our veterans homes and nursing homes has been blocked by legislative Democrats and the Murphy administration,” added Pennacchio. “After nearly three years, the Governor still has not conducted the long-promised ‘postmortem’ of his administration’s pandemic response. If he does finally issue a self-critique, it’s likely to be as transparent as tar. Until we conduct a thorough, independent investigation of the systemic mismanagement of our veterans homes since the start of the pandemic, we will never fully solve the problems that continue to lead to the unnecessary loss of life.”