NEW JERSEY – Following multiple requests led by U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) this week approved clinical staffing support teams to begin assisting and consulting nursing homes in New Jersey on infection control procedures to combat coronavirus outbreaks. This is in addition to helping the state-run veterans homes.
Each team will include a Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Nursing Aides.
Currently, there are more than 500 long-term care facilities in New Jersey combating COVID-19 outbreaks, with more than 26,000 coronavirus cases reported in these facilities overall, and with more than 4,900 deaths, Gottheimer said.
“As New Jersey’s long-term care facilities and nursing homes continue battling thousands of coronavirus cases, additional VA support that New Jersey and our congressional delegation have been requesting is absolutely critical to limiting further loss of life and protecting facility residents and staff,” Gottheimer said. “I thank Secretary Wilkie and I will continue to push our federal partners to send any available personnel and equipment to help protect New Jersey seniors, veterans, and nursing home staff. We will not beat this virus and flatten the curve if the coronavirus is able to continue to spread like wildfire in our long-term care facilities.”
Gottheimer led a bipartisan group of New Jersey’s Congressional delegation earlier this week, on May 8, 2020, to ask U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie why the VA had 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.
Gottheimer and Members of New Jersey’s delegation noted public reports that the VA had provided up to fifteen teams to assist Florida’s nursing homes through at least May 21, with Florida having less than a third of New Jersey’s coronavirus caseload.
On April 22, 2020, Gottheimer requested that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) fulfill the State of New Jersey’s request for additional assistance for all long-term care facilities in dire need throughout the State.
Gottheimer recently introduced new bipartisan legislation with Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-4) — the Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act of 2020 — to require that nursing homes report communicable diseases, infections, and potential outbreaks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and that residents and their families be kept informed of infections inside the facilities; as well as requiring facilities have both a crisis plan in place to manage an outbreak and a stockpile of personal protect equipment (PPE) on hand.