Nursing homes. Senator Pennacchio: ‘New Jersey needs to know’

| 08 Jul 2021 | 11:56

Citing a recent report from the New York State Bar Association’s Task Force on Nursing Homes and Long-Term Care linking Governor Cuomo’s directive for nursing homes to admit COVID-19 patients to increased deaths among residents, Senator Joe Pennacchio (R-26) questioned why a similar investigation has not been launched in New Jersey.

“The budget is signed, the pandemic appears to be winding down, and life is returning to normal, but for the 10,000 residents who died in New Jersey nursing homes and their families, life will never be ‘normal’ again,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “There needs to be some accountability for the ill-fated decisions that placed so many lives in jeopardy.

“From the earliest days of the pandemic, it became obvious that Governor Murphy was following in the footsteps of his colleague to the north. What happened in New York happened in New Jersey, too. And the results were the same: The unnecessary loss of thousands of vulnerable senior citizens,” said Pennacchio.

The senator noted that the Murphy Administration had been advised by top nursing home officials that requiring facilities to accept COVID-positive patients could be disastrous.

“During an acrimonious conference call with the health commissioner, a nursing home administrator stated emphatically, ‘Patients will die!’ The words are haunting in retrospect, but why were they ignored?” asked Pennacchio. “Why did the Governor and his team seem to have more confidence in Cuomo than they did in those working inside nursing homes? Why did they refuse to lift the directive even as bodies began to pile up and the conditions in veterans and nursing homes deteriorated?”

The New York report said: “It was unreasonable to leave the directive in place for so long.”

Pennacchio has repeatedly called for an investigation into the Murphy Administration’s handling of the pandemic, especially relative to long-term care facilities.

“The Democrats in Trenton have been running interference for the Governor, shielding the Administration from scrutiny and accountability,” Pennacchio said. “Political loyalty has become the obstacle preventing the public from hearing what really happened during the pandemic. How was it decided to lock elderly patients inside buildings where the virus was running wild? Who was advising the Administration, and what were they saying?

“New Jersey needs to know these answers.”