As issues at long-term care facilities are at the forefront in the battle with COVID-19, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle is offering a bill designed to dignify those who succumbed to the disease.
The assemblywoman proposed a law requiring long-term care facilities designate space for the appropriate storage of deceased individuals.
The legislation comes after New Jersey Department of Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli reported 10,500 positive cases of COVID-19 at 450 long term care facilities in New Jersey,
Providing Comfort to Families
Vainieri Huttle, calling upon the experience gained from her career as a funeral director, says all deceased deserve deference and empathy and wants proper safeguards to ensure those who passed would be treated with respect.
“I believe this legislation will be an important first step in protecting the dignity of our residents, especially our most vulnerable in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities,” she said.
Additionally, the assemblywoman said that while she hoped the pandemic was a once-in-a-lifetime event, New Jersey should be prepared for future potential pandemic events.
Responding to Andover, Paramus Reports
New Jersey started publishing a listing of nursing homes and healthcare facilities where the coronavirus had sickened and killed residents in recent weeks, tallying cases and deaths by facility.
The publication followed several high-profile reports of deaths at long-term care facilities, including 37 deaths at the New Jersey Veterans Home in Paramus. The situation grew so dire the National Guard was called in to assist the facility.
The Assemblywoman also cited the incident of 17 deceased bodies being stored in a small morgue at Andover Subacute and Rehab Center II in Andover. Andover Police discovered the scene following an anonymous tip.
No Facility Immune
“The situation in Andover and other facilities never should have happened, but I also believe that without a proper response it can happen again,” said Vainieri Huttle. “No facility is immune to this type of disaster.”
Vainieri Huttle noted the issue is not confirmed to New Jersey, but rather a universal one present in all regions affected by the virus. Life Care Center in Kirkland, WA, gained national notoriety early on in the pandemic when the virus infected a large number of the facility’s residents.