April 20, 2024


Costing Accounting Everyday

NJ vet homes COVID deaths accounting from Murphy awaited by families

A barrage of questions fills Regina Discenza’s head every time she thinks about what her parents, Charles and Madeline Costantino, suffered through two years ago as COVID-19 swept through the New Jersey Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park, where the couple lived.

Why was her father moved from room to room at the height of the outbreak shortly before he died? Did a breakdown in care allow her mom to become infected and succumb to the virus months later? Why wasn’t the facility better prepared when other nursing homes had already been hit hard a month before?

Monday marks the second anniversary of the first confirmed COVID case among the three state-run veterans homes in Paramus, Menlo Park and Vineland, where more than 200 residents have died in one of the nation’s worst nursing home disasters amid the pandemic.

Yet Discenza — and scores of other family members — are no closer to knowing the events surrounding their loved ones’ deaths than they were at the beginning of the pandemic.

Charles and Madeline Costantino of Forked River on their 50th wedding anniversary in 2010. He died of coronavirus  on April 11 and his family fears she will be next.

Despite repeated promises to conduct an independent investigation and develop a “full accounting” of his administration’s handling of the pandemic — and in particular what happened in the veterans homes — Gov. Phil Murphy has not provided any substantive explanation for why so many men and women died in the three nursing homes his administration operates. 

In fact, his administration has fought against the release of key veterans home documents for more than a year.