New Jersey Seeks Private Company to Take Over Veterans Homes | New Jersey

(The Center Square) – New Jersey is seeking a third-party partner to take over its troubled Veterans Homes amid ongoing federal scrutiny.

On Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy directed the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs to solicit bids from private providers with experience operating long-term care facilities to operate the state’s three veterans’ homes.

“By seeking experienced leadership – the best of the best – to oversee systemic reforms and bringing experienced staff on board, we will leverage the expertise and impartiality of an outside provider to ensure the implementation of thorough, lasting reforms in these homes,” he said in a statement.

Murphy said the state will seek a provider “with extensive, proven experience in managing long-term care healthcare and delivering long-term care projects of similar size and scope” with team members “that have clinical, operational and facility expertise.”

Under the plan, the selected provider must hire a “qualified team” of administrative staff, including a chief executive officer and a chief nursing officer, Murphy said.

The move follows a decision by the US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services last week to cut federal funding for new admissions at the Veteran’s Memorial Home in Menlo Park in Edison. Inefficiencies in care and infection control were cited, putting residents of the 312-bed facility in “imminent danger”.

The federal agency said the Menlo Park facility is “not substantially in compliance” and threatened to face fines and other penalties and a permanent cessation of federal funding by next March if the deficiencies are not addressed. State Veterans Affairs officials dispute the agency’s findings.

Last week, the Murphy administration dispatched a Mission Critical Team to the Veterans Home, which includes administrators with experience in operating long-term care facilities.

New Jersey veterans’ homes have reported one of the highest mortality rates in the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virus claimed the lives of more than 200 residents and staff at the three veterans’ homes, according to state health officials.

The state pushed through a series of reforms at animal shelters in response to the deaths, and fired Menlo Park’s CEO in October 2020 as part of a leadership reshuffle at the agency.

To date, the Murphy administration has disbursed more than $68 million to resolve claims of gross negligence and incompetence by veterans’ property managers filed by the families of residents who died at the height of the pandemic.

In August, Menlo Park employees filed a lawsuit against the state, alleging that punishing workers for not wearing masks and other COVID-19 precautions put their lives at risk.