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Letter: Doctor Calls for Governor Murphy to Deploy National Guard to Nursing Homes

Dear Governor Murphy:

First and foremost, thank you for the excellent job you are doing managing our state during this time of crisis, but as you well know – as you are reading this, many of New Jersey’s elders are dying.

I am a Geriatrician in active practice in Princeton.  I am the founder and Chief Medical Officer of Goals of Care Coalition of New Jersey, a sixteen-member organization that works to improve Palliative Medicine services across our state.

In addition, I am the Medical Director of Geriatric and Palliative Services, and the Geriatric Section Chief at UPENN Hospital of Princeton.  My private medical practice includes making daily rounds in our hospital, as well as local skill nursing and assisted living facilities in our region. I am also

Dear Governor Murphy:

First and foremost, thank you for the excellent job you are doing managing our state during this time of crisis, but as you well know – as you are reading this, many of New Jersey’s elders are dying.

I am a Geriatrician in active practice in Princeton.  I am the founder and Chief Medical Officer of Goals of Care Coalition of New Jersey, a sixteen-member organization that works to improve Palliative Medicine services across our state.

In addition, I am the Medical Director of Geriatric and Palliative Services, and the Geriatric Section Chief at UPENN Hospital of Princeton.  My private medical practice includes making daily rounds in our hospital, as well as local skill nursing and assisted living facilities in our region. I am also in daily close contact with physicians and administrators of such facilities across the state.

As an advocate for the elderly, I am obliged to raise awareness of the current shortage of health care personnel staffing these facilities. I am familiar with the waiver the state has placed on these facilities regarding staffing.  I am not objecting to this waiver.  (I am also aware of the list of healthcare volunteers that the Dept of Health has made available to our state facilities.)

However, these efforts simply do not meet the current need to care for our frail elders.

Related News:  Judy: No New COVID-19 Deaths, No New Reports of Inflammatory Syndrome in Children

Last weekend I was notified that one of my patients in a local assisted living facility tested positive for COVID-19. When I arrived at the facility, I found the patient in the common dining area with no mask and in close contact with employees and elder residents.  When I inquired how this could possibly happen, the response was due to “lack of staffing”.

Governor Murphy, you know that many who are staffing these buildings are unable to come to work because they are sick w/COVID.  This leaves ill residents without the proper care and protection they need to prevent getting infected.

Also, the staffing crises impacts care for those not only presently suffering from COVID, but all residents of elder care facilities. Most of our frail elders in nursing and assisted living facilities require hands on assistance with basic functions such as eating, toileting and bathing. In the current “lock-down” environment where all are kept in their rooms (or should be), elders are not being fed, cleaned, nor cared for with regard to their basic needs.  Many are left bedbound for days, likely to result in bedsores and subsequent illnesses such as pneumonia and fractures due to falls.

I know that currently the NJ National Guard is mobilized to distribute PPE.   I respectfully request that you, as Governor, immediately issue an executive order to expand the services of the National Guard to those Nursing Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities most in need.  Please take the following steps:

  1. Through direct reporting to the Dept of Health, identify those facilities who are lacking in staff to provide the basic services such as nutrition, personal hygiene and medication delivery
  2. Direct National Guard to staff these facilities until regular staff may return to work.
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I sincerely thank you for your time and consideration and, again, for all your efforts to protect New Jersey citizens from this pandemic.

Respectfully submitted,

David Barile, MD

CC: Lt. Governor Sheila OliverGeorge Helmy Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff of Outreach Deborah Cornavaca, Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli, Chief of Staff Andrea Martinez-Mejia, LTC Ombudsman Laurie Brewer.

in daily close contact with physicians and administrators of such facilities across the state.

As an advocate for the elderly, I am obliged to raise awareness of the current shortage of health care personnel staffing these facilities. I am familiar with the waiver the state has placed on these facilities regarding staffing.  I am not objecting to this waiver.  (I am also aware of the list of healthcare volunteers that the Dept of Health has made available to our state facilities.)

However, these efforts simply do not meet the current need to care for our frail elders.

Last weekend I was notified that one of my patients in a local assisted living facility tested positive for COVID-19. When I arrived at the facility, I found the patient in the common dining area with no mask and in close contact with employees and elder residents.  When I inquired how this could possibly happen, the response was due to “lack of staffing”.

Governor Murphy, you know that many who are staffing these buildings are unable to come to work because they are sick w/COVID.  This leaves ill residents without the proper care and protection they need to prevent getting infected.

Related News:  Judy: No New COVID-19 Deaths, No New Reports of Inflammatory Syndrome in Children

Also, the staffing crises impacts care for those not only presently suffering from COVID, but all residents of elder care facilities. Most of our frail elders in nursing and assisted living facilities require hands on assistance with basic functions such as eating, toileting and bathing. In the current “lock-down” environment where all are kept in their rooms (or should be), elders are not being fed, cleaned, nor cared for with regard to their basic needs.  Many are left bedbound for days, likely to result in bedsores and subsequent illnesses such as pneumonia and fractures due to falls.

I know that currently the NJ National Guard is mobilized to distribute PPE.   I respectfully request that you, as Governor, immediately issue an executive order to expand the services of the National Guard to those Nursing Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities most in need.  Please take the following steps:

  1. Through direct reporting to the Dept of Health, identify those facilities who are lacking in staff to provide the basic services such as nutrition, personal hygiene and medication delivery
  2. Direct National Guard to staff these facilities until regular staff may return to work.

I sincerely thank you for your time and consideration and, again, for all your efforts to protect New Jersey citizens from this pandemic.

Respectfully submitted,

David Barile, MD

CC: Lt. Governor Sheila OliverGeorge Helmy Chief of Staff, Deputy Chief of Staff of Outreach Deborah Cornavaca, Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli, Chief of Staff Andrea Martinez-Mejia, LTC Ombudsman Laurie Brewer.

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