200 Veterans Died From COVID-19 in N.J. VA Nursing Homes…the Numbers Were Just Now Reported

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What should have made national headline news, didn’t. This should come as no great surprise seeing as how it involved the Veterans Administration. The VA likes to promote the valued medical care it provides to America’s worthy veterans but they keep it on the down-low when things run afoul, as they have a habit of sometimes doing.

When 200 patients in two veteran nursing homes in the same state die from COVID-19, it’s difficult to assume that proper precautions were being followed by a loving staff who cared only about their patients’ well-being. It happened in New Jersey.

The State Commission of Investigation in New Jersey is puzzled why the exorbitant amount of deaths wasn’t reported until just last week, and they aim to find out.

Adjutant General Lisa Hou was asked by Republican Sen. Michael Testa if N.J. state Gov. Phil Murphy should consider looking into the matter. The Veterans Memorial Homes in Menlo Park and Paramus are under a microscope to see what went wrong. All together, N.J. lost 8,600 nursing home residents to the pandemic.

Hou said that her department was fully aware of the findings and they hope to have an answer which will be made public, soon. “I believe we will get the answers we are looking for,” she said.

“To put it simply, we deserve to know how this disaster occurred and who made these decisions. Our nation’s heroes should never have been put in harm’s way,” said Testa.

The U.S. Department of Justice is in on the act as well. An investigation into nursing home deaths was started by Donald Trump, and it’s one of the few things Joe Biden has let ride. The department is trying to uncover violations of the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act. 

If anything, the DOJ is concerned that the number of veteran’s home casualties might have even been understated. The homes had been instructed to receive new patients if they’d already been immunized. This could have very well been a fatal mistake.

So far it’s been revealed that, although ordered, VA nursing home employees were being internally chastised for wearing masks because they were told they were frightening the patients. They also refused to segregate active cases from the population and allowed those infected to hang out in common areas where the deadly virus rapidly spread among the other residents. 

A lawsuit filed by 119 families yielded them $53 million when they sued the state for incompetence and gross negligence due to mishandling COVID-19 in the veteran homes.

Hou earnestly believes more lawsuits are coming. “We all have to make sure what happened in the veteran homes, what happened in nursing homes and hospitals, that it never happens again. We are not here to criticize but we have to answer to constituents, as well,” she said. 

It’s great that N.J. wants to look into what happened at the veteran nursing homes due to the pandemic, but what does this also say about the level of care they’re receiving on a daily basis? If the staff was too lazy and incompetent to treat a deadly virus correctly, maybe the investigation should dig a little deeper. “Thank you for your service.”