The false narrative being spun by the political enemies of Governor Murphy regarding this deadly malfeasance is, sadly, nothing more than a political ploy being used to misinform voters. This is not some distant event that happened in places we have never heard of, to people we do not know. This happened right here at home. The Sussex County Republican Committee should be ashamed of themselves for pushing this blatant lie for pure political gain, as should their county-wide and gubernatorial candidates. If the Republican Committee and their candidates truly cared about the families of those who perished, the employees and their families who were affected, and of course the surviving victims, then they would be laying the blame at the feet of the true entity that is at fault instead of turning a blind eye to justice in the name of political agendas.
NEW JERSEY REPUBLICANS MUST END POLITICIZATION OF NURSING HOME VICTIMS AND FAMILIES
The COVID-19 pandemic has devastated our communities and altered our lives in ways we could have never imagined. In Sussex County we have seen 13,686 total cases with 291 COVID-19 related deaths. Our hearts go out to the many families affected by this illness and the economic uncertainty that came along with it. The Sussex County Democratic Committee is the first organization to admit that things have not been easy. Numerous members of our organization were directly and significantly affected by this pandemic. In times like these, we believe the most American thing we can do is come together. Sadly, this has not been the mentality of Republican leaders in New Jersey. Instead of rolling up their sleeves and fighting to provide support for their communities, Republicans have consistently attacked, subverted, and ignored legislation and programs tailored to support their constituents during this unprecedented time. The ramifications of the pandemic have placed economic hardship on working families, cut lives short, and have harmed communities immeasurably. Instead of proceeding collaboratively in a bipartisan manner, Republicans have chosen to prioritize politics over people. GOP leadership, both in Sussex County and statewide, including gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, have falsely claimed that Governor Murphy ordered nursing homes to readmit COVID-positive patients. These tactics are not only shameful, but they are a slap in the face to families who have been left mourning the loss of loved ones in nursing homes. The pandemic’s toll on seniors in New Jersey and the entire nation is nothing short of tragic.
The truth is that Governor Murphy never ordered nursing homes to readmit COVID-positive patients. In fact, the Murphy Administration laid out strict guidelines for those facilities that could readmit patients safely. If facilities could not adhere to these protocols, and they informed DOH, alternative arrangements were made. Instead of either Andover Subacute Center location calling the DOH to inform them of their capabilities and short falls, they opted to lie. They lied to the public, lied to the Government, lied to their residents and lied to their residents’ families. They chose to keep quiet about their inability to follow these basic guidelines and instead allowed residents to re-enter these facilities so they could continue making profit. It’s that simple: Andover Subacute Center chose PROFIT over PEOPLE, which led to bodies being stacked up in makeshift morgues and families and employees left with enduring trauma for years to come.
The Sussex County Democratic Committee has been inundated with first-hand accounts from both current and former employees who want to set the record straight about the horror they witnessed. The facility in question of course being the Andover Subacute locations in Andover Township. It is clear that not only was this tragic loss of life avoidable, but it has also been completely skewed in an attempt to shift blame away from the actual failures that led to the calamity. One personal account after another paints the same picture of neglect, abuse and malfeasance on the part of the centers’ administration at the two locations. Stories of PPE requests by employees being refused, early warning temperature checks for employees before shifts not put in place, hand sanitizer being purchased and used that had a 0% alcohol content in an attempt to fool residents, patients, and families while saving a buck, and administration members refusing to allow employees to stay home if they were suspected of being ill with COVID or another contagious illness. Further stories recount employees being told by facility administration to, “buy your own PPE (such as masks, gloves, gowns, face coverings, etc…) before coming to work if you are that worried,” or being told ” You won’t get PPE until they (meaning the Government) mandate that we have to supply it more than we already have.” The distressing stories are vast and include, employees recounting the horror of watching residents suffer while they were powerless to do anything and staff being threatened to keep silent under threat of reprisals by the Subacute administration. Many of the employees we spoke to are still, to this day, fearful for themselves and their families due to threats made by the administration of the Subacute Center, as well as members of the public who have been lied to. This unfathomable loss of life, the death of so many beloved family members, friends, and neighbors, is truly a scar on our community that we will carry forever. They will never be forgotten, and their memories will be blessings to all of us. Now is the time to heal and to hold those who are truly responsible accountable, which is emphatically the administration of the Andover Subacute Center. These individuals that threw safety and caution to the wind are solely responsible for this horrendous display of neglect. There are several nursing homes throughout the State of New Jersey and even in Sussex County that were able to take precautions that proved to be lifesaving in the most literal use of the word.
The false narrative being spun by the political enemies of Governor Murphy regarding this deadly malfeasance is, sadly, nothing more than a political ploy being used to misinform voters. This is not some distant event that happened in places we have never heard of, to people we do not know. This happened right here at home. The Sussex County Republican Committee should be ashamed of themselves for pushing this blatant lie for pure political gain, as should their county-wide and gubernatorial candidates. If the Republican Committee and their candidates truly cared about the families of those who perished, the employees and their families who were affected, and of course the surviving victims, then they would be laying the blame at the feet of the true entity that is at fault instead of turning a blind eye to justice in the name of political agendas. From the Sussex County Commissioners who have turned their governing body meetings into campaign events to push this lie with a smile on their face, to the 24th District Legislative delegation who are taking part in “independent hearings” on how they can blame Phil Murphy in a pathetic attempt to bolster their own re-election bids, and, of course, gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, who has wasted no time spending six-figures of his campaign cash on television ads pushing this lie on every NJ family he can.
If the Republican Party and its candidates are genuinely concerned for their constituents and their potential constituents, they should be exploring viable ways to make sure these examples of failure, negligence and mismanagement are never able to happen again under these circumstances. Rather than continuing to use and abuse these families and victims for their own greedy political games, we urge the Republican Party both here in Sussex County and Statewide, to address the factual details of these devastating losses, hold the failed facility administrations accountable and proactively implement worthwhile measures. Focus on your constituents before your politics.
The Sussex County Democratic Committee