The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey announced today that they have concluded an investigation into whether New Jersey subjected residents of two veterans’ homes to conditions that violate the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution.
The department found reasonable cause to believe the residents of the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Homes at Menlo Park and Paramus face unreasonable harm and risk due to inadequate infection control practices and inadequate medical care, in violation of the U.S. Constitution. The New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs operates the homes, which provide long-term nursing care to veterans and their families.
“Those who served to protect this nation and their families are entitled to appropriate care when they reside at a veterans’ home,” U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger for the District of New Jersey said. “The Paramus and Menlo Park veterans’ homes fail to provide the care required by the U.S. Constitution and subject their residents to unacceptable conditions, including inadequate infection control and deficient medical care. These conditions must swiftly be addressed to ensure that our veterans and their families at these facilities receive the care they so richly deserve. We will not stop working until they do.”
“We owe the veterans who served our nation our deepest thanks, and those veterans and their family members who live in these facilities have the right to appropriate care,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said. “Based on our investigation, we have found that these facilities have provided inadequate protection from infections and deficient medical care, which have caused these veterans and their families great harm. We look forward to working with the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to improve the conditions in these homes they operate and ensure these veterans and their families receive the care they need and deserve.”
The inadequate infection control practices and inadequate medical care at the homes are compounded by a lack of effective management and oversight. Such deficiencies expose residents to uncontrolled, serious and deadly infections and have resulted in the veterans’ homes suffering among the highest number of resident deaths of all similarly sized facilities in the region.
The investigation was conducted under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), which authorizes the Justice Department to act to address a pattern or practice of deprivation of constitutional rights of individuals confined to state or local government-run residential institutions.
As required by CRIPA, the department provided the state with written notice setting out the department’s conclusions and the supporting facts. The department also notified the state of the minimum remedial measures necessary to address the alleged violations.
The United States is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Susan Millenky and Thandiwe Boylan of the U.S. Attorney’s Civil Rights Division; Michael Campion, Chief of the Civil Rights Division; Caroline Sadlowski, Counsel to the U.S. Attorney; and attorneys from the Special Litigation Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.