Members of the New Jersey National Guard were assigned to New Community Extended Care Facility from Jan. 27 to Feb. 11 to assist with resident care. The deployment was part of a statewide effort to assist long-term care facilities with their COVID-19 response and to help with staffing shortages brought on by the surge of cases due to the Omicron variant of the virus.
Extended Care residents and staff members showed their appreciation to the service members on Feb. 11 by presenting them with gift bags and words of gratitude during the residents’ Valentine’s Day party.
“We at New Community greatly appreciate the assistance the members of the New Jersey National Guard provided to our Extended Care Facility,” said New Community Chief Financial Officer/Interim Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Mbakaya. “The COVID-19 pandemic has posed numerous challenges, including staffing, and the additional support made a difference for those living and working in the facility.”
The New Jersey Department of Health and Human Services fulfilled the request for assistance by assigning 10 members of the New Jersey National Guard to Extended Care. The National Guard members were permitted to assist in a variety of areas, including helping to move residents from bed to chair, helping with dressing and daily hygiene activities, meal set-up and feeding, routine assistance and testing and screening staff, residents and visitors.
“The members of the New Jersey National Guard coming in to provide help like this really goes a long way. We have staff shortages in all areas and they are ready to jump in without any hesitation,” said New Community Chief Operating Officer Fred Hunter. “I would just like to say thank you. It has been a pleasure and honor to have them here. This is what America is all about: giving a helping hand to our brothers in need.”
Extended Care Administrator Veronica Onwunaka was grateful to be able to welcome the service members to the facility.
“It was not only an answer to a prayer but an act of humanity to ensure that our residents receive the best care and staff who serve the underserved community get relief,” she said. “With the shortage of staffing happening everywhere, the help from our National Guard members was most appreciated by our residents and staff. They were very professional, caring, humble and dedicated to serving. We thank them sincerely and wish them the best of luck.”
This wasn’t the first time Extended Care welcomed service members to the facility. Members of the New Jersey National Guard provided support at Extended Care for about a month in the summer of 2020, shortly after the onset of the pandemic and before vaccines were available.
The 10 members of the New Jersey National Guard who assisted at Extended Care this year were Sergeant First Class Gary Collins, Sergeant Evan Howe, Sergeant Jeffrey Joy, Specialist Nicole Mejia, Specialist Zachary Porter, Private First Class Sean Martin, Private First Class Robert Morello, Private First Class James Pica, Private First Class Charles Asare and Private Mukesh Balram. New Community thanks them for their service.