This North-South relationship is complex: layers of alternating fatigue, rage and repentance struggling to find, perhaps, expression and resolution in public policy.
So it was today that Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator (and former Senate President) Richard Codey sat down at a round table, shook off the public rivalries from yesteryear that resulted in Sweeney deposing Codey from senate leadership, and considered the importance of the $5.25 million in additional funding in the recently-enacted state budget that will be used to support staffing at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities in New Jersey.
According to the Senate Majority Office, the financing was added to the state spending plan by Senate Democrats to increase compensation for professional caregivers, which will bolster staffing levels and improve the quality of care for the residents.
The $5.25 million in additional state funds will generate matching grants from the federal government, producing a total of $10.5 million for the year.
“The added funds will have a direct impact on the quality of care for residents of nursing homes and other assisted-living facilities,” South Jerseyan Sweeney said today in Cedar Grove. “The healthcare employees who treat and care for the senior citizens and patients recovering from injuries or illnesses perform heroic work. They need to be supported with fair compensation and staffing levels that allow them to give the time and attention to those they care for.”
Over the past four years, the Democratic Legislature has provided more than $34 million in supplemental funds for nursing care, money that generated an additional $34 million in federal matching funds.
“The need for quality nursing care is going to continue to grow in the coming years,” said Codey. “The increase in Alzheimer’s patients and the avalanche of aging baby boomers will require more facilities with quality caregivers. We want the medical treatment to be the best and we want the residents and patients to be cared for as loved ones.”
A former acting governor, Codey on the surface appears least close to Sweeney among those fledgling 2017 Democratic candidates for governor.
It was once very easy to picture the hair going up on the back of both these necks.
By contrast, Codey is co-hosting a cocktail reception for local incumbents with Sweeney’s rivalry – former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy – in Red Bank on July 23rd. He has regional affinities too with Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, who, like Codey, successfully backed upstart Ras Baraka in last year’s Newark mayoral contest.
But here he was today lending a Northern shoulder to Sweeney.
Joining Senator Sweeney and Senator Codey in the forum discussion and tour at the Arbor Glen Senior Living Facility in Cedar Grove were Milly Silva, Executive Vice President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest healthcare union in the country, James Tabak, Senior Vice President of Genesis HealthCare, the company that owns and operates Arbor Glen, Patricia Wood, the top administrator at the Cedar Grove facility, residents and family members.
“Senator Sweeney and Senator Codey have been successfully fighting for years for additional funding to improve compensation for the professional caregivers at our nursing homes,” said Silva. “They are among the ‘champions’ for this cause. Today, we have the opportunity to thank them directly and to give them another direct view of the work the members of 1199SEIU perform on a daily basis.”
Senator Sweeney and Senator Codey participated in the “Walk A Day In Our Shoes” program, working alongside a caregiver to get a firsthand perspective of the daily responsibilities of the employees who care for the residents.
“The work we perform and the care we provide to those in need is a collaborative effort between employees and management,” said Tabak. All of us take our responsibilities seriously and take pride in the quality of our work. The additional funds will enable us to better support the caregivers because they deserve it and the residents deserve the best possible care.”
“The work we perform and the care we provide to those in need is a collaborative effort between employees and management,” Tabak added. “All of us take our responsibilities seriously and take pride in the quality of our work. The additional funds will be used to support the caregivers because they deserve it and the residents deserve the best care.”
Nursing home operators and employee unions in New Jersey have formed an alliance, the New Jersey Nursing Home Alliance for Quality Care, to work together to garner support for nursing homes. Genesis HealthCare and 1199SEIU participate in the alliance.