Today, Tuesday, October 27, 2020, U.S. Congressmen Josh Gottheimer (D-5) and Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-9) released the following statement regarding the first positive COVID-19 case in several months at the state-run Paramus Veterans Memorial Home, where, earlier this year, 89 residents and 1 staff member died from COVID-19.
“We are deeply concerned about the possibility of an outbreak at this state-run facility, where 89 veterans died in the spring and early summer. We were encouraged by the recent changes in leadership and the acknowledgment that mistakes were made, as the federal inspection report from April made clear. Today, we asked the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs for a briefing as soon as possible. When the original COVID-19 outbreak occurred at this state-run facility months ago, we asked the State of New Jersey for their plan to address a second wave and we have yet to receive that briefing.
“It is essential that the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home has a clear plan in place to address this occurrence and a potential second wave. We must do everything possible to prevent an outbreak at this facility and all long-term care facilities, and we must be prepared for every eventuality. This is why we need legislation that requires all long-term care facilities to take concrete steps to protect their residents in an outbreak. We will continue to work toward this in Congress.”
Gottheimer and Pascrell have led calls for an investigation at the state-run Paramus Veterans Memorial Home since the start of the COVID-19 crisis. After learning of the outbreak occurring in the state-run facility in April, they worked to help get New Jersey National Guard strike teams into the facility within hours. At their urging, 56 health care workers from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs were sent to support the facility. Gottheimer and Pascrell also coordinated top infectious disease doctors to come consult with the facility’s medical staff. Gottheimer and Pascrell asked the facility’s CEO to resign and leadership at the state-run facility has now changed. They have also reiterated the need for the State Legislature to investigate, and he is continuing to fight to expand oversight and transparency into state-run veterans homes.