Oversight sought after virus kills nearly 200 in NJ veterans homes
TRENTON — After nearly 200 residents of New Jersey veterans homes died from the coronavirus, a plan is now advancing that aims to ensure there is greater oversight of these facilities moving forward.
Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker, D-Essex, introduced legislation that would require the Office of the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman to report on the quality of life of veterans homes.
Tucker wants an independent organization to review information about “the residents, the care of the residents and just exactly what’s going on in these nursing homes — to let us know how the staffing is; is there any problem with the home in general.”
She said information about all long-term care facilities in New Jersey has significantly improved since spring but “we just wanted to make sure that we make it a law and it’s something that’s going to be done on a regular basis.”
The Office of the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman is an independent advocate organization for seniors living in all long-term care residences.
It is currently required to submit a report to the governor and Legislature every year summarizing its activities on behalf of elderly resident living in facilities. The proposed measure, A-5178, would require the office to also submit a separate report on each of New Jersey’s veterans facilities, reviewing care being offered, the quality of life of the residents and and making recommendations to fix any problems that come to light.
Tucker said even beyond the pandemic, we need to ensure our veterans are treated well and “they get the proper care, the proper treatment, the proper notification to their family members about their care, because there’s been some issues in reference to what was being reported.”
Tucker worked with the Veterans of Foreign Wars on the legislation, which has been referred to the Assembly Military and Veterans Affairs Committee for review.