National Guard once again deployed to NJ nursing homes
National Guard members have been deployed to help out staff at the state's long-term care facilities.
The deployment will send 150 guardsmen to nursing homes around the state starting Monday, New Jersey National Guard spokeswoman Amelia C. Thatcher told New Jersey 101.5. Their exact assignments have yet to be determined.
More than 500 cases of COVID-19 at long-term care facilities have been reported to the state Department of Health. That number has been increasing daily with the recent COVID-19 surge in cases.
Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli and State Police Superintendent Pat Callahan said during Monday’s coronavirus briefing the state had asked the Guard for strike teams to help at long-term care facilities but didn’t mention specific locations where they were needed.
“The staff at these facilities have been particularly hard hit by the latest COVID variant,” Sussex County Commissioner Anthony Fasano. “We believed it was prudent to get them the help they needed before there was a crisis.”
National Guard duties at nursing homes
According to the governor's office, the guardsmen will help facility staff with administrative and logistical support including:
• Assist residents with getting from bed to chair, walking
• Assistance in dressing and daily hygiene activities
• Meal set-up and feeding
• Routine assistance
• Testing and screening staff, residents and visitors
Not the Guard's first time at nursing homes
Guard members were sent to state veterans homes and the former Andover Subacute facilities in Sussex County in 2020. Guard members handled office and support tasks such as preparing meals to free up staff to help with medical duties
During the spring of 2020, the facility, which is now called the Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center, stored 17 bodies in makeshift morgues. Sparta police helped remove the bodies.
The commissioners continue to seek answers from the state about those deaths but say the state refuses to respond to their OPRA requests for documents.
“The state is responsible to see that what happened in 2020 never happens again,” added Commissioner Chris Carney. “That's why we keep a constant eye on those nursing homes within our county, and when we see a problem, we push the state to get residents the help they need to stay safe.”