Veterans teams rally on the Menlo Park veterans house after 62 residents died of Covid-19 on September 16, 2020.


Greater than 100 veterans, healthcare employees and family of residents who died of COVID-19 rallied outdoors the state-run veterans house in Menlo Park Wednesday, demanding an investigation and the resignation of native managers.

Households and union members stated administration’s orders to cease carrying face masks in the course of the early days of the coronavirus pandemic led the Edison Township facility to amass one of many worst loss of life tolls amongst nursing properties in New Jersey.

“You couldn’t have prevented COVID however you can have prevented it from changing into a wildfire,” stated Shirley Suddoth-Lewis, president of the native chapter of AFSCME, the union representing nurses aides and different employees.


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Sixty-two residents and one caregiver have died for the reason that begin of the pandemic on the 312-bed house in Menlo Park. One other state-run veterans heart in Paramus leads all nursing properties within the state with 81 residents and one employees member misplaced in the course of the outbreak.

The 2 websites haven’t had a casualty or a brand new case in not less than two months, based on a evaluate of information. 


In mid-August, a resident of the Menlo Park house and veterans advocates delivered searing testimony at a state legislative hearing, the place they stated administration had refused to permit caregivers to put on masks and gloves within the early days of the pandemic.

That corroborated what many staffers and households at each veterans’ properties have told the USA Today Network New Jersey for the reason that coronavirus outbreak started in March and tore although long-term care facilities in mid-April.

Amongst these talking out was the household of Menlo Park nurse’s aide Monemise Romelus, who died in Could from COVID-19. Her son stated Romelus, who was 61, was not given private protecting gear till it was too late.


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The revelations on the listening to in Trenton lead state Sen. Joseph Vitale, chairman of the chamber’s well being committee, to name for the resignation of Menlo Park CEO Elizabeth Schiff-Heedles.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has issued statements backing Schiff-Heedles and Paramus CEO Matthew Schottlander, however has declined to elaborate on their efficiency, citing dozens of pending lawsuits towards the Division of Army and Veterans Affairs.

The pinnacle of the state VFW has known as for a prison investigation into the Menlo Park and Paramus deaths following tales by and the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey that documented how the virus doubtless unfold quickly by way of the amenities resulting from disturbing practices and questionable choices.


Murphy has repeatedly stated there can be a “full accounting” on the veterans properties however has not specified what meaning. A report commissioned by the Democrat’s administration this spring on deficiencies at nursing properties didn’t point out the Menlo Park or Paramus properties regardless of their excessive loss of life toll.

In a go to to the Paramus web site from April 19 to 22, federal well being inspectors recognized an infection management breaches and defective procedures that, amongst different failures, led to the misidentification of a deceased veteran’s physique. The breakdowns positioned all the house’s residents in “rapid jeopardy” of life-threatening sickness, the inspectors stated.

Federal officers earlier this month fined the Paramus home $21,393. The Murphy administration stated it will attraction. 

Scott Fallon covers the atmosphere for To get limitless entry to the most recent information about how New Jersey’s atmosphere impacts your well being and well-being,  please subscribe or activate your digital account today.


E mail: Twitter: @newsfallon 

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