Family alleges Menlo Park veteran’s home failed to properly care for loved one
The Murphy administration says it will take bids from private companies to clean up the state’s troubled veterans homes.
The announcement couldn’t have come soon enough for one New Jersey family, who tells Kane In Your Corner the staff at the Veterans Memorial Home at Menlo Park repeatedly put their loved one at risk by failing to ensure he got enough to drink.
“I go to bed at night and wait for the phone to ring,” says Paula Criscuolo, whose husband of 56 years lives at the Menlo Park home.
Robert Criscuolo moved into the Edison facility in April. A month later, he was taken to the emergency room at JFK Medical Center. Medical records indicate he was treated for dehydration.
“They said that my husband was severely dehydrated,” Paula says. “Those were their words. His sodium level was sky high.”
The Criscuolos say they talked to the staff and were assured it wouldn’t happen again. But in August, Robert was back at the hospital, and once again the paperwork shows he was dehydrated.
This time, the Criscuolos demanded a meeting with CEO Jennifer Causer. Robert’s son, Dan, recorded the conversation and Causer can be heard assuring the family that “whenever we visit, even if we go into check in on him, that we (will) just offer him beverage or water.”
RELATED: Menlo Park veterans home appears to have ignored infection control procedures, KIYC investigation finds
But in October, Robert was hospitalized for a third time - once again suffering from dehydration. The Criscuolos are worried nothing has changed. Paula visits each day at noon and has taken several photos of her husband’s water cups, the straw still covered in paper.
“How do you leave my father who wants water with a cup that he can't grab himself, with paper still on it?” Dan Criscuolo says. “How is he supposed to drink out of that?”
Other families tell Kane In Your Corner they’ve had similar concerns about inadequate hydration at the home but were unwilling to go on camera.
This isn’t the first time News 12 has reported about serious issues at the Menlo facility. In 2020, a Kane in Your Corner investigation found basic infection control procedures weren’t being followed. Some staff members said that fueled a massive COVID outbreak, in which more than 100 residents died.
The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, which oversees the state’s veterans’ homes, declined to be interviewed, saying they could not discuss specific patients. But Wednesday evening, the governor’s office announced DMAVA would take bids from outside vendors to “manage systemic changes and provide qualified administrative staff.”
For the Criscuolos, that change can’t come soon enough. “These are people that served our country,” Dan Criscuolo says. “They don’t deserve this.”