AARP calls for more transparency into New Jersey nursing homes
AARP New Jersey is calling for more transparency into nursing homes across the state.
The agency, which advocates for retired and older Americans, says that the more information families have, the better they can make life-saving decisions.
Long-term care facilities, particularly nursing homes, have been the hardest hit by the coronavirus. Many in New Jersey have at least one case of the virus. At the Elizabeth Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 22 patients have died since March 25 – 12 of them from COVID-19. Many families say that the lack of information is adding to their fears and frustrations.
“Families are just expressing difficulty reaching their loved ones - reaching the nursing homes themselves – to find out the status of the facility and whether or not there are COVID-positive patients there and how many,” says AARP New Jersey director of advocacy Evelyn Liebman.
Liebman says that this information is vital for families to make better decisions with their loved ones. AARP is now calling on the state to do more to help with facilitating that information.
“While certainly the privacy of residents needs to be protected, we think it’s appropriate to release the names of homes,” Liebman says.
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State officials have said that they are working to address those concerns. They have already limited visitations at the homes and halted admissions at facilities that can’t cohort or separate residents with the virus. They are also relying on the people who run the facilities to communicate better with families.
“Folks are rightfully looking for more communication and more answers…and we’ve been pounding away on operators to provide that,” said Gov. Phil Murphy.
The governor and New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Tuesday that they have enforced mandatory notification to families of outbreaks in nursing homes. But the AARP says that it wants to see the state get even more involved and to force the facilities to be more transparent.
According to state reports, 342 of New Jersey’s long-term care facilities have seen at least one case of the virus – 123 of them are prohibited from accepting new admissions.