To the Editor:
The tragedy that occurred at the long-term care facility in Andover, formerly Andover Subacute, has had a withstanding impact on our County and Andover Township. We could never pretend to know the pain, grief and complicated emotions the residents, employees, family and loved ones of the victims felt and continue to feel.
What we do know, undoubtedly, is that they all deserve answers and justice, along with the opportunity to heal. Only by listening, learning, and advocating can we truly serve those most impacted by this criminal negligence. Perhaps if each lawmaker, with good intentions, used the authority within their disposal there could be more productive solutions.
Offering a ballot question for an investigation into this tragic event when multiple public, private, and governmental investigations are already underway, sends a clear message that other agendas are taking precedence over the real goal of justice and accountability. A politically charged and executed ballot question will further erode the public’s trust in their governments true agendas. The fact that there are law enforcement agencies already investigating this crime, given its notorious and high profile nature, we must wait for these agencies’ reports to be released to get a full and comprehensive look at what really happened at the former Andover subacute facilities.
If the true goal of the Sussex County Commissioners is to find answers, they too should be focused on allowing these already underway investigations to continue uninterrupted. They should be focused on advocating for the township of Andover, the other long term care facilities within the county, and the surviving family members and residents while these investigations continue to progress. We know firsthand from conversations with family members of the deceased that this unnecessary politicization is the exact opposite of what the desperately need from their friends, neighbors and government representatives.
Our platform includes ideas for supporting long term care facilities, including creating a supportive infrastructure of communication so that family members, residents, and employees may feel supported. Additionally a much needed and necessary focus on communication and cooperation with facilities like the former Andover Subacute locations within our county will be top priority. The lack of transparency was a catalyst of this entire horrific event and that must be addressed and improved. Ideas to improve communication to benefit the residents has been recommended to the County Commissioners several times.
The reality is this premature ballot question will inevitably cost substantial tax payer dollars at a time that we are only beginning to recover from the financial setbacks resulting from the pandemic. The ballot question requests an investigation that is already underway in different capacities and a bi-partisan task force has already been formed. Sadly, this feels less like advocacy and more like the party politics we have gotten used to.
The referendum will drive many people to the polls. We want as many Sussex County stakeholders as possible to cast their votes and we want to make sure voters are informed. This tragedy is being so blatantly used to point fingers during an election year and Sussex County deserves better than that. We are willing to tell you the whole truth, no matter who is ultimately deemed at fault, because that is what true leadership is. We are also willing to do everything within our power to help the Andover facility’s residents, victims, employees, and their family members. In addition to uncovering all sources of the problems that caused Andover Subacute to be impacted so harshly, we will work together to find ways to ensure this can never happen again.
We will communicate with the public about each and every bill being introduced or passed on the state level regarding our long term care facilities as well as keeping them abreast of any and all public/available information regarding the progress of the already open investigations. We will continue to support the families, residents and victims of the Andover long-term care facility. Any family member that would like to share your story or learn more about the legislation discussed feel free to reach out to us at VrabelandPaul@gmail.com. We also can direct you to Andover support groups as well.
Scott Paul and Mike Vrabel
Democratic candidates for Sussex County Commissioner