TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – No masks, no isolation and no communication to loved ones.
Horror stories inside two New Jersey veterans homes have caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Wednesday, it sent a letter to Gov. Phil Murphy saying the state is now under investigation.
As CBS2’s Lisa Rozner reports, early March was the last time Regina Discenza saw her father Charles Costantino, an Army veteran, at the Menlo Park Veteran’s Memorial Home.
“My father was moved like a piece of furniture,” she said.
A month later, COVID hit, and no visitors were allowed.
“I received a call, April 10, my father had a 102 fever and they were making him comfortable with oxygen and Tylenol,” she said. “I begged them to let me come in and have an end of life visit. I was told ‘Oh no, he’s not dying.'”
The next day he was transferred to a hospital but it was too late. He died from COVID-19 at 86.
Regina later learned her mom Madeline, who also lived at the VA, had a huge bed sore, and died from post-COVID complications two weeks ago.
“My mother died knowing she was waiting to die,” Regina said.
The Constantinos are among the 192 residents that died from COVID at the veterans homes in Menlo Park and Paramus.
The Department of Justice Wednesday wrote Gov. Murphy, saying it is investigating because it believes “the number of COVID-19 deaths… have been understated” and “our review of publicly available information gives us cause for concern the quality of medical care at these nursing homes has been deficient.”
“The administration of this facility, against what their nurses and doctors were telling them, ordered their staff not to wear PPE,” said nursing home negligence attorney Francisco Rodriguez.
Several families had sought advice from John Dalli, a nursing home negligence attorney.
“Dementia patients who were either COVID-positive or suspected COVID-positive being allowed to roam the facilities, roam the hallways and infect others is outrageous behavior,” Dalli said.
“The current numbers that we have today, we’re looking at a third of the population in both of these three facilities, Vineland, Paramus and Menlo Park, are a result of COVID and mismanagement by this administration,” said Jay Boxwell, Jr. of N.J. Veterans of Foreign Wars.
In a statement, Gov. Phil Murphy‘s office suggested the investigation is politically motivated, and says the state has followed CDC guidance since the beginning of the pandemic.
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