Republican House candidate Frank Pallotta thought Reps. Josh Gottheimer’s (D-Wyckoff) call for the resignation of the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home’s chief executive missed the mark.
“In their statement, Gottheimer and Pascrell acknowledge that these facilities are the responsibility of the state and that the deaths were needless and preventable, but they won’t dare criticize the man in charge,” said Pallotta, “Why? Is politics more important than taking responsibility?”
Gov. Phil Murphy is the man in charge, Pallotta said, pointing to a March executive order that required long-term care centers readmit residents who had contracted COVID-19 and been discharged from a hospital.
The order required such patients be separated from the general population, though Murphy and other administration officials have said compliance was less than perfect.
Republicans have repeatedly launched attacks at Murphy along that line in the past several months, pointing to the large number of deaths out of the state’s nursing and veterans’ homes. The state has reported 6,678 deaths among long-term care residents.
Gottheimer and Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) called for Paramus Veterans Home CEO Matthew Schottlander’s resignation on Tuesday, citing mismanagement at the facility they claim led to its high death toll.
Totaled, 81 residents at the Paramus facility died after contracting COVID-19, and 199 of its residents, more than 90% of all those living there, had tested positive for the virus, though the living 118 residents have since recovered.
Murphy on Monday said he was unaware of the calls for Schottlander’s resignation.
The Republican claimed the two Democratic congressmen were seeking to provide cover for Murphy on the issue.
“Gottheimer and Pascrell are trying to put the spotlight on a Murphy underling, on the same day that Murphy finally releases money to assist long-term care facilities,” Pallotta said. “The money is coming five months after Murphy’s infamous executive order that sent COVID-19 patients into these facilities and precipitated the crisis in the first place.”
Murphy announced $155 million in funding for long-term care facilities on Monday. The money is meant to aid the facilities as they resume allowing visitations and return to a non-crisis state.
Pallotta also pointed to the order’s barring testing medically-stable residents being admitted or readmitted to long-term care facilities, though the state was only testing symptomatic patients then because of a nationwide shortage of testing supplies.