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 Acupuncturists Menlo Park, NJ

If you're new to holistic healing, acupuncture may seem intimidating. You might be wondering how needles pressed into your skin could possibly make you feel better. Wouldn't someone pushing a needle into your back be painful? As it turns out, acupuncture is far from painful and is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after treatments for chronic pain and for regulating issues relating to:

  • Digestion
  • Hormones
  • Breathing
  • Muscles
  • Nerves & Brain
  • Sex & Libido
  • Body Circulation
  • Organs & Heart

In fact, acupuncture has been studied and practiced for over 2,500 years and, more recently, has been researched and supported by many scientific studies. While acupuncture may not be a "miracle" treatment for every type of pain or condition, it has been shown to be effective in treating a wide range of issues, from depression and allergies to morning sickness and cramps.

Covering the Basics of Acupuncture in Menlo Park, NJ

Acupuncture is a therapy in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) that aims to balance the body's energy, called qi, which flows through pathways called meridians. This balance is crucial for overall wellness, as disruptions to qi can lead to health concerns. According to TCM, inserting small stainless-steel needles into specific points called acupoints along the meridians can help rebalance the flow of qi and restore overall health.

These acupoints are believed to release certain chemicals when stimulated, which can trigger an immune response and promote physiological homeostasis. Recent research suggests that this therapy may help alleviate symptoms of various health ailments.

In fact, the National Institute of Health conducted a survey on complementary health approaches, revealing that acupuncture usage in the United States has increased by 50 percent between 2002 and 2012. As of 2012, 6.4 percent of American adults have reported using acupuncture as a form of treatment.

Acupuncture Near Me Menlo Park, NJ

Is Acupuncture in Menlo Park, NJ Actually Legit?

One of the most common questions from new patients interested in acupuncture typically revolves around whether it really works or whether it's all "new age" malarky. We get it - for most folks, the thought of inserting stainless-steel needles into one's back, arms, or neck sounds loony. However, with the ever-increasing popularity of acupuncture in New Jersey and other locations, numerous studies centering on acupuncture's effectiveness have taken place.

Extensive research has been conducted on the effectiveness of acupuncture for various conditions. A February 2022 analysis published in the BMJ, which evaluated over 2,000 scientific reviews of acupuncture therapies, revealed that acupuncture's efficacy is strongest for:

  • Neck Pain
  • Back Pain
  • Post-Stroke Aphasia
  • Muscle Pain
  • Lactation Issues
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Asthma
  • Allergies
  • Vascular Dementia
  • More

Additionally, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), acupuncture is most effective for pain relief in cases of chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis, lower back pain, and tension headaches. Additionally, a review of 11 clinical trials found that acupuncture may also alleviate symptoms associated with cancer treatment, as noted by the NIH.

What Happens During an Acupuncture Session at New Jersey Sports Spine & Wellness?

When meeting with your acupuncturist for the first time, they will discuss your condition with you before conducting a physical examination to identify areas of your body that might respond to acupuncture. The needles used in acupuncture are incredibly thin, sterile, and disposable, with your acupuncturist inserting them at different depths ranging from a fraction of an inch to several inches.

Acupuncture needles are less painful than medical needles used for vaccines or blood draws. This is because acupuncture needles are thinner and solid, not hollow. During the treatment, you may experience some muscle sensations like dull aches or tingling.

Your practitioner will ask you to report any deep heaviness or numbness, which are positive signs that the treatment is working. Depending on the condition you're treating and the supplemental treatments you're undergoing, like physical therapy, acupuncture needles will remain in place for several minutes or up to 30 minutes.

Once your first acupuncture treatment is finished, it's normal to feel extra relaxed and calm. For that reason, some patients like to arrange for a ride home after their first or second session. With that said, you shouldn't experience much pain at all, and it's quite possible for you to return to work after acupuncture.

How Many Treatments Until Acupuncture Works?

This is another common question that we get at New Jersey Sports Spine & Wellness. The simple answer is, "It depends." While we understand that that's not a satisfying answer for some, it's important to understand that every patient is different. Everyone has different bodies and, by proxy, different bodily conditions and issues that need to be addressed.

During your initial consultation at our office, your licensed acupuncturist will go over your needs and goals as it relates to acupuncture therapy. Once your therapist has a good sense of the scope of your needs, they can give you a loose idea of how many sessions you'll need.

Generally speaking, most patients have appointments once a week. Others may require more or less frequent sessions. It's important to note that the full benefits of acupuncture may not be immediately evident after the first or even the second session. It's common for normal patients to undergo up to five treatments to realize the full benefits of acupuncture.

What Conditions Are Treated with Acupuncture in Menlo Park, NJ?

There's no question that acupuncture is more popular than ever as a non-invasive, non-addictive way to reclaim balance and well-being. But what types of conditions can this traditional therapy help alleviate in the modern world? Advances in acupuncture techniques and applications have resulted in some very promising benefits.

Relief from Chronic Pain

Did you know that regular acupuncture treatments can help reduce the pain associated with osteoarthritis? In May 2017, a meta-analysis was published, which studied approximately 18,000 patients with chronic pain, such as low back, neck, and shoulder pain, knee OA, and headache or migraine. The analysis found that the benefits of acupuncture therapy in reducing pain lasted for more than 12 months.

That's wonderful news for athletes and other people who push their bodies daily to accomplish goals or bring home money for rent and bills. In fact, many medical experts consider acupuncture as a viable option for managing chronic pain in conjunction with traditional methods like physical therapy and chiropractic care. The idea behind this approach is that acupuncture may trigger the body's natural healing response to alleviate pain.

When a licensed acupuncturist in New Jersey inserts an acupuncture needle, it penetrates your fascia, a connective tissue that wraps around your organs and muscles. Like a slight tickle on your arm, your body realizes that something is happening and responds by delivering lymph fluid, blood, and other important nutrients to speed up healing in affected areas like your knees, back, neck, joints, and more.

 Fertility Acupuncture Menlo Park, NJ
 Best Acupuncture Menlo Park, NJ

Migraine Headache Relief

If you're like other people who suffer from migraines, you know that once one of them hits, it can be next to impossible to function properly throughout the day. Fortunately, acupuncture in Menlo Park, NJ may be a viable solution if you have to endure migraines often.

A study conducted in 2009 by the Center for Complementary Medicine at the University of Munich analyzed 11 studies involving 2,137 patients who received acupuncture treatment for chronic tension-type headaches. The researchers concluded that acupuncture could be an effective non-pharmacological solution for frequent headaches.

The study compared the effects of acupuncture sessions with sham acupuncture and no treatment at all. Both groups that received acupuncture treatment, whether needles were placed randomly or strategically, reported a reduction in headache symptoms, while the control group reported no change. The group that received real acupuncture treatment also reported a decrease in the number of headache days and intensity of pain in a follow-up survey.

Improved Sleep

For individuals who struggle with insomnia and other sleep disturbances, acupuncture is a promising therapy. Although sedatives are commonly prescribed for insomnia, long-term use can lead to negative side effects such as dependence and excessive drowsiness.

A study conducted on 72 participants and published in Sleep Medicine in 2017 found that individuals who received acupuncture three times a week for four weeks experienced significant improvements in sleep quality and anxiety compared to those who received sham acupuncture.

Similarly, a review of 30 randomized, controlled trials found that acupuncture was more effective in improving sleep quality and daytime functioning than sham acupuncture.

 Acupuncture Clinic Menlo Park, NJ
 Facial Acupuncture Menlo Park, NJ

Better Recovery from Surgery

While many patients choose acupuncture as a way to avoid surgery altogether, those who need surgery also use it for improved recovery. Because, at the end of the day, recovering from surgery is no easy feat. Patients may experience various symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, pain around the incision, restlessness, sleep troubles, constipation, and sore throat.

According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, healthcare providers may use acupuncture as a way to alleviate some of these symptoms and help with healing. A study published in Integrative Cancer Therapies in January 2017 involving 172 participants found that patients who received acupuncture after surgery reported significant improvements in sleep, anxiety, pain, fatigue, nausea, and drowsiness.

 Acupuncture Treatment Menlo Park, NJ

The Surprising Benefits of Supplementing Physical Therapy with Acupuncture

Did you know that supplementing physical therapy with acupuncture and vice versa can have profoundly beneficial effects for patients in New Jersey and across the country? If you're like most, chances are you didn't.

The truth is that acupuncture and physical therapy have both been proven effective in reducing pain and inflammation. While many people view them as separate methods, combining the two modalities can produce a synergistic effect that enhances pain relief and delivers long-lasting benefits to patients.

Physical therapists work with patients of all ages and abilities, from children to elderly adults, to help them overcome physical limitations and improve their quality of life. At NJ Sports Spine & Wellness, our physical therapists help treat a wide range of conditions, from neck pain and spinal cord injuries to back pain and arthritis.

To effectively reduce pain and treat tissue injury, a combination of acupuncture and physical therapy can be very helpful. Acupuncture helps to reduce inflammation and release muscle tightness and trigger points, allowing the patient to better receive manual therapy or exercise-based physical therapy techniques. In doing so, acupuncture can actually create a window of time that allows your body to respond better to other treatments at New Jersey Sports Spine & Wellness, such as physical therapy and chiropractic care.

There are many benefits of combining physical therapy with acupuncture in Menlo Park, NJ, including the following:

  • Increased Range of Motion
  • More Effective Long-Term Pain Relief
  • Enhanced Tissue Repair & Healing
  • Better Response to Physical Therapy Due to Pain Reduction
  • Less of a Need for Pain Medications
  • Boosted Mood & Energy
  • Better Quality of Life Overall

You may be wondering, "Are there any studies showing these benefits?" As it turns out, there are many. One such study, published on the NIH's website, was conducted on patients suffering from frozen shoulder.

 Acupuncture Therapy Menlo Park, NJ

Patients who received acupuncture experienced a significant reduction in pain, while those who underwent physical therapy saw an improvement in range of motion. However, the best outcome was observed in patients who received a combination of both treatments, with reduced pain, increased their range of motion, and improved quality of life. This study highlights the potential benefits of using acupuncture and physical therapy as complementary treatments for frozen shoulder.

It makes sense, then, that people from all walks of life are combining acupuncture with chiropractic treatments at New Jersey Sports Spine & Wellness, including:

  • Professional Athletes
  • Football Players
  • Soccer Players
  • Baseball Players
  • Construction Workers
  • Landscapers
  • Accountants and People Working Office Jobs
  • Public Officials
  • Police Officers
  • More

Combining Acupuncture with Chiropractic Care for Pain Relief and Wellness

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At New Jersey Sports Spine & Wellness, our doctors, practitioners, occupational therapists, and physical therapist specialize in a range of therapies and treatments. Much like physical therapy and acupuncture, combining chiropractic care with acupuncture therapy gives patients a new way to reclaim their mobility, reduce chronic pain, and maintain a healthy quality of life.

Chiropractic care and acupuncture in Menlo Park, NJ are natural healing practices that don't rely on drugs to improve the body's health. They focus on correcting imbalances in the body's structural and supportive systems, promoting natural healing, and ultimately leading to better health. These practices have a proven track record of helping patients improve their quality of life and overcome physical difficulties.

 Medical Acupuncture Menlo Park, NJ

What are the Benefits of Using Acupuncture with Chiropractic Care?

Integrating chiropractic and acupuncture as a dual-modality treatment offers the most efficient solution for removing blockages from the body, promoting balance, and accelerating healing. Rather than using these treatments sequentially, a combined approach allows for maximum benefits at one time.

Chiropractic targets subluxations in the nervous system through manual adjustments, facilitating the central nervous system to promote healing, while acupuncture removes blockages that may hinder the body's internal balance. Together, these treatments work synergistically to optimize energy flow and restore harmony in the body.

 Cosmetic Acupuncture Menlo Park, NJ
 Cosmetic Acupuncture Menlo Park, NJ

What Conditions Can Be Treated with Acupuncture and Chiropractic Care?

When our physical well-being becomes imbalanced, and our innate healing mechanisms are compromised, illnesses can manifest. The integration of acupuncture and chiropractic practices can effectively address a wide range of health conditions that they individually target, such as:

  • Sports Injuries
  • Headaches
  • Sciatica
  • Lower Back Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Insomnia
  • Chronic Conditions Like Diabetes
  • More

Curious if combining chiropractic care or physical therapy with acupuncture is right for your body? The best way to find out is to make an appointment at our sports rehab clinic in New Jersey. Once our team of medical professionals has a chance to evaluate your conditions, we can explore the best options to provide the most relief in the shortest amount of time possible.

The Premier Choice for Professional Acupuncture in Menlo Park, NJ

New Jersey Sports Spine & Wellness consists of a team of athletic trainers, chiropractors, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and other professionals. We're very proud and passionate about caring for our patients, many of whom are suffering from debilitating conditions like back and neck pain, plantar fasciitis, sports-related injuries, and more. If you're trying to get on the road to pain relief and recovery, acupuncture may be the non-surgical solution you need to reclaim your life. Contact our office today to learn whether this exciting treatment is right for you.

phone-number732-526-2497

Latest News in Menlo Park, NJ

New York Fries brings 2nd US location to NJ

New York Fries, a concept featuring a variety of plain and loaded fresh cut, cooked-to-order French fries, recently made its New Jersey debut.Located in the dining pavilion at Menlo Park Mall in Edison, the corporate-owned outpost opened Feb. 11 as the brand’s second restaurant in the U.S.Billed as a “premium French fry restaurant,” New York Fries’ niche menu consists of fries made with Idaho potatoes cooked in non-hydrogenated s...

New York Fries, a concept featuring a variety of plain and loaded fresh cut, cooked-to-order French fries, recently made its New Jersey debut.

Located in the dining pavilion at Menlo Park Mall in Edison, the corporate-owned outpost opened Feb. 11 as the brand’s second restaurant in the U.S.

Billed as a “premium French fry restaurant,” New York Fries’ niche menu consists of fries made with Idaho potatoes cooked in non-hydrogenated sunflower oil and served plain or loaded with toppings, like beef chili, pulled pork, queso and crumbled bacon.

Additionally, the concept serves a classic Canadian delicacy, poutine, topped with beef gravy and Wisconsin cheese curds, as well as all-beef grilled hot dogs with an array of loaded options. The menu also includes vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free items.

After starting 40 years ago as a small fry shop at Manhattan’s South Street Seaport, the brand went on to become a staple at food courts throughout Canada.

Now owned by Recipe Restaurant Group, a Canadian food conglomerate, the chain has more than 130 locations through Canada and the Middle East. Last month, New York Fries returned to the U.S., unveiling a spot on Long Island at Roosevelt Field Mall in Garden City.

The fries have it

The brand expects to follow up its Edison launch with an opening at Newport Centre in Jersey City during the first quarter of 2024.

New York Fries at Menlo Park is open Monday to Thursday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.

A grand opening ceremony with Edison Mayor Sam Joshi is scheduled for Feb. 29, according to New York Fries.

“Off the heels of our exciting reentrance into the United States with our Roosevelt Field Mall opening, expanding into New Jersey is an amazing next step towards our continued growth across the East Coast and beyond,” Craig Burt, New York Fries’ chief operating officer said in a statement.

“We’ve received such a warm welcome from our opening in Long Island and expect a similar response from the Edison community. We’re thrilled to bring our premium fresh-cut fries to guests across the area and can’t wait for Menlo Park mall goers to try the perfect French fry,” he added.

New York Fries Opens At Menlo Park Mall In Edison, First NJ Spot

EDISON, N.J. — The opening of New York Fries at Menlo Park Mall is bringing a new kind of sizzle to the local foodie scene.New York Fries offers a gourmet take on the fresh-cut fries concept, and it had its official New Jersey grand opening Feb. 29 at the mall, with Mayor Sam Joshi leading the township prese...

EDISON, N.J. — The opening of New York Fries at Menlo Park Mall is bringing a new kind of sizzle to the local foodie scene.

New York Fries offers a gourmet take on the fresh-cut fries concept, and it had its official New Jersey grand opening Feb. 29 at the mall, with Mayor Sam Joshi leading the township presence.

"New York Fries has opened its first location in New Jersey and second in the USA right here @menloparkmall Edison. They serve high quality fries with all kinds of toppings. Check it out!" the mayor posted.

With its soft opening earlier last month, the Edison restaurant is the brand’s second restaurant to open within the U.S. this year, the company says, with its first at a Long Island mall.

Under its NYF logo, the company has more than 100 restaurants across Canada and 25 throughout the Middle East. So the next time you're at the Dubai Mall, stop by!

Find out what's happening in Edison-Metuchenwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

The company's name originates from the two New York City brothers who came up with the idea, the company says, but made it happen in Canada. Now its coming back home, in a way, to the metro area.

It's an admittedly niche menu, with high-quality, fresh-cut fries that are cooked to order.

New York Fries, operated under Recipe Restaurant Group, features fries made with Idaho potatoes, served plain or loaded with a variety of toppings, including beef chili, pulled pork, queso and crumbled bacon.

Also on the menu is a classic Canadian delicacy - poutine - topped with beef gravy and Wisconsin cheese curds for guests across Edison to discover and enjoy.

Additionally, the New York Fries menu features all-beef grilled hot dogs and an array of loaded "dog" options. Ingredients are sourced from Idaho and other local sources here and in Canada, the company says.

New York Fries offers a selection of vegetarian options and the fries are gluten free and vegan, the company says. Potatoes are cooked in non-hydrogenated sunflower oil, using a three-stage method. As nothing else goes into the fryers except potatoes, the brand can appeal to those with dietary and allergen restrictions, serving vegan, vegetarian and gluten-friendly items.

Also recently, there was an opening of the restaurant in Roosevelt Field Mall in Long Island, the company's first location. One is planned for Smith Haven Mall in Long Island and now Newport Center in Jersey City later this fiscal quarter, the company says. The locations are corporate owned.

"Expanding into New Jersey is an amazing next step towards our continued growth across the East Coast and beyond,” said Craig Burt, Chief Operating Officer at New York Fries. “We’ve received such a warm welcome from our opening in Long Island and expect a similar response from the Edison community. We’re thrilled to bring our premium fresh-cut fries to guests across the area and can’t wait for Menlo Park mall goers to try the perfect French fry.”

Here are some helpful tips about the new Edison restaurant:

The Canadian 130-plus restaurant chain is located in all major mall food courts there, as well as select highway rest stop locations, the company says.

As for its parent company, founded in 1883, Recipe Restaurant Group is Canada’s largest full-service restaurant group, and the brands sound intriguing:

The company franchises and/or operates such brands as Swiss Chalet, Harvey’s, St-Hubert, The Keg, Montana’s, Kelseys, East Side Mario’s, New York Fries, Bier Markt, The Landing Group of Restaurants, Original Joe’s, State & Main, Elephant & Castle, The Burger’s Priest, The Pickle Barrel, Marigolds & Onions, Blanco Cantina, Añejo, Fresh Kitchen and Juice Bar.

More information about the Company is available at http://www.recipeunlimited.com.

Signs of apparent mold at troubled veterans home spark $500K remediation effort

The Veteran’s Memorial Home at Menlo Park in Edison, which was the target of federal sanctions earlier this year over major shortcomings in care, has embarked on a costly, months-long mold remediation project after a whistleblower said he raised an alarm over conditions in the building.Officials would neither confirm the presence of mold, nor rule it out, descri...

The Veteran’s Memorial Home at Menlo Park in Edison, which was the target of federal sanctions earlier this year over major shortcomings in care, has embarked on a costly, months-long mold remediation project after a whistleblower said he raised an alarm over conditions in the building.

Officials would neither confirm the presence of mold, nor rule it out, describing the dark staining on walls that could be seen in photos of the facility only as a “discoloration.”

At least 11 rooms were found to have discolored drywall, according to officials at the 312-bed state-operated nursing home for veterans and their spouses. They said the problems were discovered not by the whistleblower, but in the course of regular inspections.

“We are concerned about mold,” acknowledged Lisa Kranis, the chief executive officer at Menlo Park, in a letter to staff, residents and families last Friday. She said an outside consultant conducted two site visits the week of May 15, leading to the decision to immediately move forward with an abatement plan.

“Abatement will involve cutting and replacing portions of the drywall in impacted rooms,” she wrote.

Another 17 rooms had leaky toilet issues, which officials blamed on failed wax rings.

The cost of the entire project was estimated at approximately $500,000, said a spokeswoman for the facility.

In a followup letter to staff and residents on Thursday, Kranis said standard practice was to conduct mold testing at the conclusion of abatement. But she noted that an air sample “pre-test” will be conducted to “help inform the level of effort required for the abatement.”

A maintenance worker and painter who claimed he was suspended after refusing to just paint over the stained drywall, however, said there was extensive mold behind many walls.

“The whole building is full of mold. They are just remediating what they find,” complained Jean Lormine, a former union leader who is appealing his suspension. “I reported it to my supervisor, but they did nothing about it.”

He said mold has to be tested, treated and remediated.

“Even if they wipe it down, the mold is still there,” he said. “You need a deep cleaning.”

Earlier this year, the facility was hit with more than $340,000 in federal penalties, following charges of improper care and abuse that put the lives of residents in “immediate jeopardy” and threatened a shutdown of the facility. Those violations led to a suspension of new admissions by the state Department of Health and a warning that the facility could be terminated from federal assistance programs.

State officials in February indicated that they had turned the corner at Menlo Park, announcing that the facility had improved its infection control strategies, made key personnel changes, and had been permitted to resume admissions.

In response to the staining and leaks, the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, or DMAVA, said it has developed a contractual work order for the scope of repair work of the walls and plumbing.

The agency said it just finalized two purchase orders, one to retain an outside firm for inspections and consulting and the second for the actual abatement work.

In her letter, Kranis said the wall and toilet issues were uncovered during scheduled routine maintenance as part of a deep cleaning and inspection of each occupied room at Menlo Park.

“To do this, in small groups of rooms at a time, we ask residents to relocate for 1-2 days in order to allow our facility staff the chance to move the furniture and furnishings to thoroughly inspect the residents’ rooms and bathrooms,” she wrote.

When one resident room was found to have discolored drywall on May 4, the maintenance staff and DMAVA’s Environmental Management Branch began conducting multiple maintenance checks, leading to the identification of more than two dozen rooms with issues, officials said.

“We relocated all of the residents from these 28 rooms to mitigate any health concerns and to avoid further disrupting them with the work and testing ahead,” Kranis wrote. “We are treating the issues we see as mold, however the industry standard for mold testing is the sampling of both outside air and internal air, and comparing the findings at the end of abatement.”

Sampling will be done in each room where the abatement work is ongoing upon completion. Air ducts will be inspected as well, she said.

A spokeswoman said the work is planned to continue over several months.

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Susan K. Livio may be reached at slivio@njadvancemedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio.

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While others struggled, Vineland's veteran home noted for COVID response

A New Jersey investigative agency issued a scathing report about state-run veterans homes' response to the COVID-19 crisis, noting "an astounding number of deaths in mere weeks" — more than 200 residents and staff members at facilities in Paramus, Menlo Park and Vineland.Vineland, though, fared better in the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation report than its North Jersey counterparts.COVID infections spread later to South Jersey, and with infection rates here "far lower," the r...

A New Jersey investigative agency issued a scathing report about state-run veterans homes' response to the COVID-19 crisis, noting "an astounding number of deaths in mere weeks" — more than 200 residents and staff members at facilities in Paramus, Menlo Park and Vineland.

Vineland, though, fared better in the New Jersey State Commission of Investigation report than its North Jersey counterparts.

COVID infections spread later to South Jersey, and with infection rates here "far lower," the report states, Vineland's veterans home "had a warehouse full of (personal protective) equipment with no shortages," even as the Paramus and Menlo Park facilities struggled with supplying masks, tests and other material to employees fearful of getting sick and bringing the illness home to their own families.

Gloucester CountyDeptford nature preserve needs volunteers to keep educating visitors about sustainability

Communication with patients' loved ones was difficult at Menlo Park and Paramus, where residents had to share a limited number of electronic devices for FaceTime and other communications, and facilities' WiFi access was unreliable, forcing some to rely on hotspots.

Menlo Park and Paramus, built in 1999 and 1986 respectively, were not physically set up to quarantine or isolate sick patients, the report added, and it was challenging to move sick patients through facilities without exposing them to others.

However, "Vineland is a modern facility that starkly contrasts with the other properties," the report states. A 2005 redesign meant the facility has upgraded WiFi. Residents also had communal living areas spread throughout the facility, as well as recreational spaces, a large patio area and other amenities like a bowling alley, movie theater, salon and bank.

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"Some of the building’s features, and given that COVID infection rates were lower in the southern portion of New Jersey and at the Vineland home during the pandemic, enabled it to more easily cohort residents, reduce the spread of the virus and permit residents to continue to engage in activities," the report says.

The New Jersey State Commission of Investigation presented its findings to Gov. Phil Murphy and members of the state Legislature. Among the hardest-hit states early in the 2020 pandemic, New Jersey saw its most vulnerable populations, including the elderly and disabled, devastated, especially as virus raged through group living facilities like nursing homes.

"Three years later, with the public health emergency now over and more than 35,000 New Jerseyans' lives lost to COVID-related causes, the public deserves a full accounting of what led to the extreme devastation inside the veterans homes," the report says.

The state was "wholly unprepared for the devastating virus and the havoc wreak inside the residences," it says, alluding to a federal Department of Justice investigation that found the state failed to keep veterans in its care safe.

"Further, it found ongoing failures by management continue to leave them in peril," the report adds.

The report points to failures including "massive absenteeism" among staff members early in the pandemic, which left residents without basic care; a lack of means to get employees to report to work or to find replacements for them, as staffing agencies refused to fill vacancies due to the state's low per diem reimbursement rates; failures to communicate rapidly-changing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control to managers at veterans homes; the absence of a system for family members to receive updates and communication from loved ones in the facilities; and outdated physical layouts in Paramus and Menlo Park that weren't designed for quarantining sick patients.

The three facilities, which care for nearly 950 residents, are available for honorably discharged veterans and their spouses, as well as parents of those who lost their lives in a wartime military action.

Phaedra Trethan has been a reporter and editor in South Jersey since 2007 and has called the region home since 1971. Contact her at ptrethan@gannettnj.com, on Twitter @wordsbyPhaedra, or by phone at 856.486-2417.

Two troubled N.J. veterans homes would see mandatory upgrades under new bill

Two state-run veterans homes that saw a high number of deaths related to COVID-19 would get mandatory upgrades under a new bill advanced in the Legislature’s lower chamber Monday.The bill (A4923) would require the state veterans homes in Menlo Park and Paramus to convert at least one ward each to single occupancy rooms. Those rooms would be required to be equipped with ventilation systems that would prev...

Two state-run veterans homes that saw a high number of deaths related to COVID-19 would get mandatory upgrades under a new bill advanced in the Legislature’s lower chamber Monday.

The bill (A4923) would require the state veterans homes in Menlo Park and Paramus to convert at least one ward each to single occupancy rooms. Those rooms would be required to be equipped with ventilation systems that would prevent the spread of harmful airborne particles, and both homes would need to upgrade their heating and ventilation systems.

Assemblywoman Cleopatra Tucker (D-Essex), prime sponsor of the bill, said during a hearing of the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee that the main goal of the legislation is to ensure the upgrades will be funded. The measure calls for federal funds to be allocated to complete the conversions and upgrades, with state funds used if federal funding is not sufficient.

“I know as time goes on, years go on, standards change, and we have to make sure that these two nursing homes get a chance to have the proper opportunity to bring their facilities up to the standard that is required,” said Tucker, the committee’s chair.

COVID-19 devastated the two nursing homes, which saw 200 deaths of residents and staff members and more than 400 infections as the virus initially swept through the state. Since then, a report from state health inspectors reported episodes of improper care and abuse in Menlo Park, the federal government halted admissions to Menlo Park and threatened to cut off funding, and Gov. Phil Murphy announced his administration would outsource management of the Paramus, Menlo Park, and Vineland veterans homes to a private vendor.

The Murphy administration has faced criticism over how it managed COVID-19 outbreaks at veterans homes and nursing homes across the state. According to NorthJersey.com, a November 2021 outbreak in the Menlo Park facility led to 17 deaths and hundreds of infections, while a federal inspection found employees of the Paramus facility allowed COVID-positive residents to mingle with those who were not testing positive.

Robert McNulty of the Vietnam Veterans of America criticized the bill as a knee-jerk reaction to COVID-19, pointing to its exclusion of the nursing home in Vineland and noting that extended construction could close off wings in the homes, limiting how many people can be admitted. Adding an additional wing would be preferred, he said, because that would lead to fewer disruptions for residents.

“We need to do it systemwide across all three homes, and we want to do it in a fashion that we’re not here five years from now still waiting to raise a hammer. There’s no guarantee in this bill that any of that’s going to occur,” said McNulty.

Tucker said the Vineland home isn’t included because it’s in “much better shape than the other two facilities.”

Luddie Austin of the New Jersey Veterans of Foreign Wars said the pandemic exposed problems that veterans were experiencing in the places they call home. Austin praised the bill as a call to action and stressed a sense of urgency in helping the struggling homes.

“They have that right to live comfortably, and by adding these extra expansions in these two homes, and later down the line we see that it’s working, then we build another memorial home in the state of New Jersey,” he said. “But this bill is crucial to help out veterans who are currently living in those two facilities.”

Assemblyman Alex Sauickie (R-Ocean) echoed some of McNulty’s testimony, including his concerns over excluding Vineland and the potential loss of beds.

“We need more beds at these homes. We need more homes in general,” he said.

The bill unanimously advanced, with Sauickie agreeing to vote for it on the floor of the Assembly if language is updated to include more funding. A Senate companion bill was introduced last week in the Senate Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee, which does not have a future meeting schedule.

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