New Jersey legislators launch bi-partisan investigation into Murphy pandemic nursing home deaths

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3 mins read

From the desk of Senator Joe Pennachhio

Senator Joe Pennacchio has joined Senator Nia H. Gill as a prime sponsor of her resolution that would establish a special committee of the Senate to investigate New Jersey’s nursing home pandemic response.

In a tweet announcing her measure (SR-48) last week, Gill said: “For New Jerseyans to get the answers they deserve, we must have a transparent and public investigation.”

“I want to thank Senator Gill for taking the mantle on this poignant issue, and for allowing me to partner with her as a prime sponsor,” said Pennacchio (R-26). “In her quest for the truth, Senator Gill has become a voice for the voiceless, an advocate for the thousands of seniors who died from COVID in New Jersey nursing homes and the families who lost loved ones.”

The bill sponsored by Gill and Pennacchio establishes a 7-member committee to investigate all aspects of the effects of state actions, executive orders and actions, legislation, regulation, and state policies on nursing homes, nursing home residents and their families, and nursing home employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The only way that we can ensure the public receives the answers they deserve is to have this committee in the legislature,” said Senator Gill (D-34). “We must have a comprehensive report on how our system of care failed seniors and their families and how we can improve these systems going forward. With variants of COVID-19 posing a continuing risk to seniors and other medically at-risk individuals, our state must form a comprehensive and forward-thinking pandemic response plan to ensure the safety of long-term care residents.”

Pennacchio began calling for a legislative investigation into the state’s nursing home policies in May 2020 and introduced a resolution (SR-68) similar to Gill’s calling for a Senate Select committee to review the Executive Branch’s pandemic response. At that time, COVID had claimed more than 4,800 seniors residing in nursing homes, and the number has since climbed, now approaching 10,000.

“It is encouraging to see bipartisan support for an inquiry,” said Pennacchio.  “Without an official forum, it is obvious New Jersey residents will never learn the truth about what happened in the nursing homes and what could have been done to prevent the tragedies and save lives.”