DOJ report blasts “unconstitutionally deficient care” at Paramus, Menlo Park veterans homes

If you’re surprised? You’ve been willfully blind, Save Jerseyans.

Earlier Thursday, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped a report blasting the Murphy Administration for “unconstitutionally deficient care” during the Covid-19 pandemic at the Paramus and Menlo Park veterans homes, two of three under direct state supervision.

“The residents of the Veterans Homes have a Fourteenth Amendment right to conditions of reasonable care and safety,” the report’s authors explain. “The State’s ongoing failure to implement basic infection control protocols and provide adequate medical care to the Veterans Homes’ residents violates the constitutional rights of individuals who live there.”

Many of the details are disturbing. For example, “[b]y late April, it was clear to U.S. Veterans Affairs personnel that the [Paramus] facility had no process for separating COVID-positive residents. Positive and negative roommates were still sharing rooms.” So much for flattening the curve and six feet of separation, right?

The Murphy Administration’s horrific behavior has proven costly in every sense of the word. New Jersey taxpayers have already been forced to pay out millions of dollars in settlements after approximately 200 residents and workers died between the two facilities. Today’s report concluded that “even by the standards of the pandemic’s difficult early days, the facilities were unprepared to keep their residents safe.”

The DOJ report may provide some measure of validation for the victims’ families (and those who’ve been screaming about this situation since 2020), but obviously a packet of paper on government letterhead can’t bring back a single lost soul.

Republicans seized upon the report’s release to criticize the Murphy Administration for its negligence as well as its foot-dragging in releasing the results of its own internal review (which isn’t expected until after the November legislative elections).

“Today’s damning report from the Biden Administration’s Department of Justice explains why Governor Murphy’s ‘independent review’ still hasn’t seen the light of day,” said LD4 Assembly candidate Matt Walker, a US Navy Veteran. “As a veteran, I am appalled that men and women who sacrificed for and served our country were treated with such utter disregard.  Sending infected people back into these homes was akin to a death sentence for residents and the fact that these seniors and veterans are still subject to ‘unacceptable conditions,’ ‘inadequate infection control’, and ‘deficient medical care” is an outrage.”

“The DOJ’s report will be a permanent stain on this administration and revealed what we long knew to be true – that Governor Murphy violated the U.S. Constitution by sweeping the suffering of veterans under the rug. Unfortunately, his administration’s egregious failures have continued to bring harm to these heroes. Murphy must take accountability and immediately address the conditions at Menlo Park and Paramus. Lives are at stake,” said Assemblyman John DiMaio, head of the GOP caucus. “Our most vulnerable residents cannot survive this administration’s long-overdue Covid investigation, apathy and inaction. There must be no question as to the kind of care New Jersey’s veterans are receiving. They deserve the best that this state can provide. Enough excuses.”

Matt Rooney
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MATT ROONEY is's founder and editor-in-chief, a practicing New Jersey attorney, and the host of 'The Matt Rooney Show' on 1210 WPHT every Sunday evening from 7-10PM EST.