The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been nothing short of devastating on New Jersey’s 575 nursing homes. More than half of all novel coronavirus deaths in the Garden State have taken place at long-term care facilities.

As the state Attorney General’s Office investigates whether criminal charges should be filed against any of these facilities, Gov. Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that Manatt Health, a nationally experienced team of experts, will conduct a review of practices at New Jersey nursing homes.

State Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said the three-week review will look at what additional protocols, resources and equipment should be put in place to enhance safety and “they will compare New Jersey’s oversight of these facilities to other states and examine differences in outcomes.”

“They will make recommendations on potential state or federal action to improve quality, safety, resilience and funding within New Jersey’s long term care system," she said. "These recommendations will guide how long-term care facilities can in the future safely care for their residents and the well-being of their staff.”

“They’ll look at outbreak protocols. They’ll address mitigation protection and resiliency against future outbreaks,” she said.

Enter your number to get the New Jersey 101.5 app

Murphy said the long-term care issue has been among the biggest challenges.

“This will be an inclusive approach to solve this challenge that will make us a national model, God willing.”

According to the governor’s office, the team of experts will be led by Cindy Mann, a 30-year expert in federal and state health policy who ran Medicaid in the Obama Administration as former deputy administrator at the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services; and Carol Raphael, former CEO and president of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, as well as the former board chair of AARP.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com