NJ Gov. Murphy office warned 'patients will die' before ordering COVID patients into nursing homes: report
'Patients will die,' an administrator reportedly told Murphy's office.
Democratic New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's office was warned that ordering nursing homes to readmit residents recovering from COVID-19 would lead to unnecessary deaths, a new report reveals.
But Murphy went ahead with implementing the order anyway.
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli informed hundreds long term care providers on a March 31 conference call that they would soon be expected to readmit COVID-positive nursing home residents, according to the report by New Jersey Advance Media.
Persichilli told the staff that the returning patients would need to be separated into a separate wing and be assisted by separate staff that were not allowed to mingle, and instructed facilities unable to do that to contact the state for assistance.
After the announcement, Perichilli was warned by an unnamed administrator that people would "die" should the infected residents be readmitted, according to the report.
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"Patients will die," the administrator said. "You understand that by asking us to take COVID patients, by demanding we take COVID patients, that patients will die in nursing homes that wouldn't have otherwise died had we screened them out."
Perichilli went on to tell the administrators the guidelines for separating returning residents and their caretakers, but the group of officials took issue with the commissioner.
"You have asked us to separate safely and create our own wing and take in COVID-19′s from the hospital," said one of the administrators.
"The problem, of course, is there is no separating safely," they continued. "It’s almost certain that even though you have staff only on that unit, something will migrate."
Persichilli said on the conference call that facilities were suggested to "create a separate wing or floor to accept" incoming patients and another, different "wing or unit and care for those suspected or confirmed COVID-19."
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The day after the conference call, the New Jersey Department of Health was slammed with calls from 99 facilities saying they did not have enough resources to staff or separate patients properly, according to the report.
"Within a week, 200 facilities notified us that they could not accept new admissions," said New Jersey Department of Health spokeswoman Donna Leusner, according to the report.
New Jersey Republican lawmakers held a hearing on March 5 to investigate the readmittance of Covid-19 positive patients that has led to over 8,000 deaths in Garden State nursing homes.
Murphy defended his order on Monday, saying that the order was "crystal clear" and that if a long-term care facility were "to readmit a formerly COVID-positive resident," they would need to follow the state guidelines.
"It was crystal clear," Murphy said. "If you were going to readmit a formerly COVID-positive resident, they had to be separated by floor, by wing, by building. The staff could not co-mingle."
Murphy's office did not immediately respond to Fox News' request for comment.
The New Jersey governor is facing a similar nursing home scandal to that of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
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Cuomo's advisers reportedly influenced officials to alter numbers surrounding nursing home deaths in New York.
Cuomo is also facing a sexual harassment scandal following multiple women coming forward to accuse the embattled governor.