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New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman

Untitled Document

For Immediate Release:
March 13, 2024
For Information Contact:
Andy Williams

Statement on the Independent Review of New Jersey’s COVID-19 Response
From Laurie Facciarossa Brewer, New Jersey’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman

Thank you to Governor Murphy for commissioning a frank assessment of New Jersey’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to the reviewers for producing a comprehensive report that will help New Jersey prepare for the next public health crisis.

The report affirms that residents of nursing homes, veterans’ homes, and other long-term care facilities were particularly hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic due to age, underlying health complications, and the fact that they live in congregate settings. It also recommends many changes to support and protect long-term care residents in the future.

We appreciate the report’s authors for calling out the critical role played by the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman (LTCO) in promoting quality care in nursing homes and for recommending increased funding for LTCO, the Office of Long-Term Care Resiliency, and the Department of Health’s Mission Critical teams.

The report’s recommendations also bolstered the case for the LTCO’s policy and legislative priorities for this year. A critical example is a recommendation to ensure that long-term care residents can receive visits and support from friends and family during emergencies.

The decision in 2020 to isolate long-term care residents from each other and their families for months after the initial COVID surge was devastating. No matter where they live, people have needs that go beyond fundamentals like food and shelter. People need human interaction; they need to engage in activities that are meaningful to them; and they need things to look forward to at the end of a day.

Bills pending in the Assembly (A4040) and Senate (S1825) would allow residents to designate individuals who must be permitted to visit at any time, despite any ongoing emergency, provided they comply with infection control and safety rules.

The report also recommends that the Office of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman be granted access during any lockdowns at long-term care facilities.

This is crucial. Our staff and volunteers need to stay in touch with residents, champion their rights, and monitor the quality of care and services they receive. In addition, a significant percentage of residents have no family or friends who regularly visit them. For those individuals, LTCO staff and volunteers not only provide strong advocacy, they help fill their need for human connection beyond the nursing home walls.

Finally, the report also underscores the need to foster the stability and financial health of long-term care facilities. There is a growing trend toward corporate consolidation and investor ownership of nursing homes. This is concerning because those factors often are associated with declining quality of care.

Bills pending in the Legislature — A1872 and S1948 — would help address those concerns by requiring nursing homes to disclose detailed information about their finances and ownership structure. The legislation would give regulators the tools they need to ensure that funding is directed toward its intended purpose — quality nursing home care — and not corporate profits.

The state of New Jersey has made substantial investments in the long-term care system over the past few years. We are thankful for those activities, and we look forward to working with our partners to bring the recommendations from this comprehensive report into being.

About the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman

The Office of the New Jersey Long-Term Care Ombudsman is an independent state agency dedicated to the mission of advancing the rights, dignity, and self-determination of adults living in long-term care, including nursing homes, assisted living, and residential health care facilities. Learn more.


Last Updated: Wednesday, 03/13/24