Coronavirus News: 425 outbreaks at New Jersey nursing homes

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- It's the last thing a family wants to learn right now: Your parent has tested positive for COVID-19 inside a nursing home.

"We just want to know something, what are you doing to protect our mother?" said Brian Jordan, whose mother-in-law tested positive inside a New Jersey nursing home last week.

Or, even worse, your mother died inside a facility during the outbreak.

"If they're sick, are they being treated properly?" asked Jennifer Fitzpatrick, whose mother died at a New Jersey nursing home on April 7. "Are they stopped the spread of the disease?"

The families are just two of thousands who can't care for or comfort their loved ones, many during their final moments.

There are more than 400 outbreaks of COVID-19 at long term care facilities in New Jersey, and more than 1,700 people have died at the facilities.

"This is like an entire flu season in one month," said Jon Dolan, president of the Health Care Association of New Jersey.

He represents more than 300 nursing homes.

"Did we do our best and did we do everything right? Obviously at Andover that was not the case, so now we've fixed it," he said. "Obviously in many homes, there's an outbreak, so now we prevent it."
He says an intervention team is working with the state to determine and prioritize the crisis level at all New Jersey nursing homes and shifting staff and resources to prevent more outbreaks from happening.

"We can do better with family communication, and the governor directed it," he said. "And we will comply. We can do better on treatment of funeral and morgue operations because of the exponentially large death toll."

Up until this past weekend, he said they've experienced a shortage of testing and PPE equipment and critical staff shortages at the most affected facilities.

"One third have walked away, sadly, deserted the battle," he said. "And they are needed to come back and try to do their best. and we'll give them PPE and put them to work. One third are wounded, have COVID, they're presumptive and in quarantine or their family members have it."

Still, he said he is hopeful moving forward.

"We will get through to the other side together," he said. "Not exploiting it. Not condemning it. But just going out and showing what 'right' looks like."

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