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Feds are sending doctors, nurses to aid NJ veterans homes where almost 200 have died

Rally by veterans groups and union workers at the state run Menlo Park nursing home for veterans, where at least 65 residents and one staff member died of cover, in Edison, N.J. September, 16, 2020 (Ed Murray | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com/TNS)

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that doctors and nurses from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will spend the next month at two of New Jersey’s veterans nursing homes, where 190 residents died from the coronavirus.

The news comes just days after the governor accepted the resignation of Brigadier General Jemal J. Beale, the adjutant general who oversees the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.

Murphy also announced Friday the CEOs of the veterans homes in Menlo Park and Paramus, where 101 and 89 residents died, respectively, will be replaced.

“Especially as we begin to transition to new leadership at our veterans homes, these additional hands will play an essential role,” the governor said during his routine pandemic briefing in Trenton.

“This staff support began this morning and will continue for at least four weeks,” Murphy said.

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“I thank Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie – who I have remained in direct contact with – for his, and his department’s, continued partnership and support throughout the pandemic,” he added.

Gross negligence lawsuits are piling up against Menlo Park, which is run by the state.

A VA “assessment team” this morning visited with interim Adjutant General, Col. Dr. Lisa J. Hou at the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park in Edison, Military and Veterans Affairs spokesman Kryn Westhoven said. The details are still being negotiated so it’s not clear yet how many VA professionals will be assigned at Menlo Park and the New Jersey Veteran Memorial Home in Paramus, he said.

VA medics assisted during the height of the pandemic in the spring, he added.

The Menlo Park home suffered the most fatalities out of the nearly 700 long-term care facilities in New Jersey.

Murphy, as he has said when asked before, promised a “a full accounting to get to the bottom of what happened” at the veterans homes.

The VA is not sending staff to the veterans home in Vineland, where three residents have died, Westhoven said.

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(c) 2020 NJ Advance Media Group

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