Something Good is Going to Happen

I just sent the following letter both to Senator O’Scanlon, who is on this committee as well as being my legislator, and Senator Pennacchio who heads up the NJ Senate committee looking into why so many people in nursing homes died from Covid and how things can be improved. I was able to testify before the Committee on my reactions to state actions in response to Covid deaths in nursing homes. Given how driven both Senators are in making sure nothing like this happens again, I don’t think either will mind my sharing my letter of thanks here. My thanks to Assemblywoman Serena DiMaso who knew my story and wanted to do something about it. Can’t wait to hear her once again at tonight’s Atlantic Highlands GOP meeting on ZOOM. Contact Brian Boms at atlantichighlandsrepublicans@gmail.com if you want to sit in on that meeting. My letter to the Senators: Many thanks for enabling me to talk before your committee today, Senator Pennacchio, and you, Senator O’Scanlon, for ongoing support and hard work for everything that is important or healthy for Monmouth County. While I was truly grateful for being able to tell the story of how I, as an ombdusman/patient advocate for a Monmouth County nursing home felt about the Governor’s mandate last March that required nursing homes to admit residents regardless of their Covid stature, I had no idea of the added benefit that talk would provide for me personally. After I got off the meeting, I realized that for the first time in a year, I felt that truly something good is finally going to be happening. I felt my complaints and criticisms were listened to, I felt the agony of each of you legislators in hearing the awful stories family members told about losing loved ones was so sincere, I wondered how you got through it all. I also commend you on the broad spectrum of testifiers you had. Besides myself as a patient advocate, you had a care center administrator, albeit one who lost his job because he had the courage of his convictions that the Governor was wrong; you heard from a reporter who couldn’t get answers to her questions from state offices, a former Marine who openly admitted that as a spokesman for his companion residents at the veterans care center he represents he has, and would continue to, receive retaliation for his honesty. You heard from daughters and sisters who lost loved ones because actions and executive orders were issued before knowledge was obtained. I certainly did not envy your position. But I think it’s important for you to know that I feel certain that the others who spoke also feel the same sense of satisfaction I feel for having someone listen to what we all know…Governor Murphy followed Governor Cuomo in making same very stupid and ill-thought out mandates that caused the death of too many people. I reiterate my recommendations for helping to avoid such disaster in the future: listen to nurses, hear from aides and maintenance workers at nursing homes who see the everyday workings of a nursing home. Learn from some, like those who staff the care center where I am an advocate, that these hard working, in most cases severely underpaid employees and their administrator always did the best they were able, always tried to meet the demands, and yes, were often brought to tears by the deaths of residents who had become dear and close friends. I feel fortunate ‘my’ nursing home is one where the staff treats each resident as a member of the family and where the staff has worked through its own grief in order to continue to save others. Thanks, Senators, I’m so happy you’re in Trenton and not forgetting the families back home. Sincerely, Muriel J. Smith


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