Rep. Josh Gottheimer Urges for More Help from Veterans Affairs

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to hit long-term care facilities the hardest in North Jersey, Rep. Josh Gottheimer is urging “in the strongest possible terms” for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide more help.

In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie, Gottheimer pushed the VA to fulfill the state’s request for additional assistance for all long-term care facilities. The VA is currently employing staff at three veterans homes in the state, including New Jersey Veterans Home at Paramus (NJVHP), which has had staffing shortages.

“New Jersey desperately needs federal assistance to help disinfect facilities, administer testing, assist with patient care for remaining residents, and perform specific services at these disaster-stricken homes,” stated Gottheimer. “Our state is relying on the federal government for assistance in dealing with this crisis, and I believe that the VA is uniquely equipped to help.” 

Hard-Hit District

There are 438 long-term care facilities in New Jersey dealing with COVID-19 outbreaks, with a total of 11,608 cases reported in these facilities overall, and with 2,050 deaths as of April 22. New Jersey has had the second largest coronavirus outbreak in the country by total number of cases.

Currently, there are 680 National Guardsmen on duty in New Jersey as part of the state’s COVID-19 response, including 45 National Guard medics assisting at NJVHP.

Gottheimer stated he was grateful for the help at the veterans homes in the state and is “hopeful they can help others in our long-term care facilities.”

Long-Term Care Issues

The VA is not the only avenue the second-term Democratic congressman has looked for to secure help for his district, as he has called on the New Jersey Department of Health to assist dozens of other long-term care facilities facing critical shortages in North Jersey as well as led New Jersey’s bipartisan Congressional delegation requesting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services deploy more front-line healthcare workers.

“I am committed to doing everything I can to leverage federal resources to help protect vulnerable residents and staff members at New Jersey’s long-term care facilities,” Gottheimer continued. “We must do everything we can to save lives, protect public health and safety, and assist our state’s most vulnerable residents.”

Gottheimer district has been one of the hardest hit in the U.S. when it comes to long-term care facilities, as it includes the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center and NJVHP.

Andover, Paramus Veterans Home

At Andover, the largest long-term care facility in the state, at least 91 residents and staff have recently died, 39 confirmed being positive for COVID-19. As of April 22, 91 total residents had tested positive for coronavirus, 16 residents were awaiting test results, and 30 residents had been hospitalized.

At the NJVHP, there have been reports of the deaths of more than 45 veterans. Gottheimer, joined by Rep. Bill Pascrell, requested Sec. Wilkie deploy healthcare staff and resources there to help protect veterans and residents from COVID-19. 

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