NEW JERSEY – U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) last week led a bipartisan group of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation to ask the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) why it denied New Jersey’s request for additional medical personnel needed to combat coronavirus outbreaks in the state’s long-term care facilities, while other states with fewer coronavirus cases received support.
There are 514 long-term care facilities in New Jersey dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, with more than 24,000 coronavirus cases reported in these facilities overall, and with more than 4,600 deaths, Gottheimer said.
“Given these startling numbers, we respectfully request a justification for why New Jersey’s request for VA medical assistance at long-term care facilities was not granted on the merits. If the VA was unable to fulfill the request due to staffing limitations, please also explain why similar requests for support made by other states were apparently not subject to these limitations,” the Members asked in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie.
“According to public reports, the VA has provided up to fifteen teams to assist Florida’s nursing homes through at least May 21st,” Gottheimer said.
New Jersey, a state of almost 9 million residents, is one of the hardest hit states in the nation, with more than 135,000 total positive cases and more than 8,000 deaths. Florida currently has less than a third of New Jersey’s caseload and only a fifth of New Jersey’s death count.
The Members stated, “While we are disappointed that New Jersey’s request was not granted, we remain committed to working with our federal agencies to free up resources and identify potential sources of support for our state’s most vulnerable residents at long-term care facilities.”
The Members continued, “As the state must now look elsewhere for additional support for staffing assistance at other long-term care facilities, we also urge the VA to continue to work with the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to increase and expand staffing to help deal with the worsening situation at the state-run veterans homes, including the disaster-stricken homes in Paramus and Menlo Park,” the members said.