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Gottheimer fights to protect North Jersey seniors, veterans in long-term care facilities from COVID-19

NEW JERSEY – U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Monday stood outside the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home to outline steps to help protect North Jersey seniors and veterans in long-term care facilities from COVID-19, and to demand to know if facilities are properly prepared as North Jersey enters flu season. Gottheimer also pressed the State of New Jersey to clarify directives for rapid testing in long-term care facilities and called for hazard pay to help support hardworking frontline caregivers.

Gottheimer also announced that the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus — made up of 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans and co-chaired by Gottheimer — has now officially endorsed his bipartisan Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act, cosponsored by fellow Problem Solver and New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-4).

In an effort to ensure facilities are prepared for the fall and winter, Gottheimer noted that he and Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9) continue to await a written response regarding an update on testing and staffing levels from the authorities responsible for New Jersey’s state-run veterans homes.

“With flu season around the corner, I’m here today at this state-run veterans home to ensure we are taking the steps now to prevent another massive COVID tragedy here and at other nursing homes in the coming months,” Gottheimer said. “Today, I am announcing new bipartisan support for my Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act, which will help us protect our seniors and long-term care facilities through COVID and other health crises. I’m also calling on the state to take rapid action on testing protocols at our nursing homes. Unfortunately, according to new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation, data shows that cases and deaths in facilities may be on the rise again. For the sake of our seniors and veterans, we simply can’t allow history to repeat itself.”

Gottheimer outlined key initiatives today to protect seniors and veterans in long-term care facilities, including:

  • The bipartisan Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act: Gottheimer has introduced this bipartisan bill, along with Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-4), to require that nursing homes report communicable diseases, infections, and potential outbreaks in real time to the CDC; to require that residents and their families be kept informed of infections inside the facilities; to mandate that facilities have a crisis plan in place to manage an outbreak; and require that facilities have a stockpile of PPE on hand.

 

    • The bill has now earned the bipartisan endorsement of the 50-Member Problem Solvers Caucus, co-chaired by Gottheimer, clearly showing the groundswell of support from both sides of the aisle over these issues.

  • Clear testing directives for New Jersey long-term care facilities: Gottheimer is calling on the State of New Jersey to expeditiously clarify its directives surrounding rapid testing of facility residents, staff, visitors, and inspectors, so that nursing home operators and administrators have a clear path forward to protect residents inside the facilities and ensure those entering facilities are properly and quickly tested.

  • Hazard pay for New Jersey long-term care facility caregivers on the frontlines: According to public reporting, nursing home experts have said that the spread of the disease can be exacerbated by low pay that can force caregivers to work at multiple facilities to make ends meet. Gottheimer, today, called for efforts for hardworking long-term care facility caregivers to receive the hazard pay they deserve for selflessly working on the front lines of this pandemic, and to help keep themselves and those they care for safe.

  • Accountability and answers for the Paramus Veterans Home COVID-19 outbreak: After learning of the outbreak occurring in the facility in April, Gottheimer worked with Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (NJ-9) to help get New Jersey National Guard strike teams into the facility within hours, as well as VA personnel and top infectious disease doctors to come consult with the facility’s medical staff. Gottheimer and Pascrell have now asked the facility’s CEO to resign, they have reiterated the need for the State Legislature to investigate, and they are continuing to fight to expand oversight and transparency into state-run veterans homes.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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