In light of the crisis at the Andover Subacute Rehabilitation Center, Rep. Josh Gottheimer is advocating for more help at long-term care facilities in his district.
Gottheimer’s plan to protect facilities’ residents and staff includes a coordinate effort with the state agencies and the federal government, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
“We will not beat this virus and flatten the curve if COVID-19 is able to continue to spread like wildfire in these long-term care facilities,” said Gottheimer in a letter to New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “Moreover, it is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that the most vulnerable among us are adequately protected from contracting the virus.”
Specifically, Gottheimer wants NJDOH to assist dozens of other long-term care facilities facing critical shortages in North Jersey.
“I have heard from forty-five long-term care facilities in Sussex, Warren, Bergen and Passaic Counties that they are in critical need of these supplies, additional personnel, and other assistance as they work to contain the outbreaks of COVID-19 in their facilities,” stated Gottheimer.
The letter cited locations needing additional staffing as well as personal protection equipment (PPE) including gowns, goggles, gloves, face shields, N95 face masks, thermometer covers and disinfectant supplies.
Regarding the issues at the Andover Subacute Rehabilitation Center, Gottheimer noted he is in communication with Gov. Phil Murphy and state officials to get additional PPEs to protect residents and staff at the facility.
NJDOH’s Communicable Disease Service recently deployed a team to work with Sussex County Department of Health to assist the facility’s residents and staff and to enforce necessary protocols and safety measures. Additionally, the federal government sent a team of surveyors from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure the health and safety of residents at the facility.
Persichilli said on April 18 Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation I and II were issued citations by NJDOH and the facility is required to have a plan of correction by April 20, which must include an onsite infection prevention specialist, a chief nurse officer and an administration manager.
“It is a huge relief that the residents and staff at Andover will start to get the assistance that is so desperately needed there,” stated Gottheimer. “I have also asked FEMA to deploy National Guard and Reserves to assist and the Department of Health and Human Services to provide additional support in the form of PPE and staffing from the U.S. Public Health Service.”
Rep. Gottheimer recently appeared on MSNBC to discuss the issue: