Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration has awarded contracts to two healthcare consulting firms to temporarily provide consulting and management services at the three state-run nursing homes serving veterans in New Jersey, for as much as $5 million, the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs announced Wednesday.
Murphy ordered the department to seeks bids from an outside vendors in November after the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services cut off federal funding for new admissions at the Veteran’s Memorial Home at Menlo Park and state inspectors found major shortcomings in care and deficiencies in pandemic infection control they said put residents in “immediate jeopardy.”
Admissions resumed in February after the department had improved its infection control strategies and made key personnel changes.
Interim Quality Partners, LLC will provide management and consulting services at the Menlo Park nursing home, as well as consulting services at Vineland; Care Plus Bergen, LLC will provide on-site consultant services to the veterans home in Paramus, according to a notice posted on the state website.
Brig. Gen. Lisa J. Hou, the Adjutant General of New Jersey and commissioner of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, announced the successful bidders during a hearing before the state Assembly Budget Committee on Wednesday at the Statehouse in Trenton.
Neither Hou nor her office provided detail on how much each the bidders will be paid. Hou told the committee the entire tab would not exceed $5 million, adding, “That doesn’t mean we will need all of that.”
The temporary teams will not “displace” anyone on staff at Menlo, and will assist in recruiting permanent leadership, Hou said.
In December, Hou replaced the facility’s CEO and hired a nurse practitioner as director of nursing. The department also signed contracts to with four specialists — two infection control consultants, one nursing consultant and one administrative consultant.
The state veterans’ homes had among the highest death rates in the country from the pandemic, claiming the lives of more than 200 residents and staff, according to the state, although one attorney who represents dozens of families who sued the state suggests the number of fatalities may actually be more than 240.
The state has paid out nearly $69 million to settle lawsuits filed by the families of 190 deceased veterans homes residents from Menlo Park and Paramus. The lawsuits accused the state of negligence in allowing the coronavirus to run rampant inside the facilities, but the cases were settled without the state admitting to any wrongdoing.
A federal investigation into the deaths at Menlo Park and Paramus is still ongoing, as are two separate state investigations, Hou confirmed at the budget hearing. She declined to comment further.
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