Sweeney: It’s Up To The State To Ensure That Temperature Conditions Are Bearable At State Facilities

NATIONAL PARK – Senator Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem released the following statement today regarding a police report issued in National Park, Gloucester County, on Monday stating that temperatures inside the Shady Oaks Rest Home reached as high as 89 degrees. The report was issued less than two weeks after State officials found temperatures in the facility in the 90’s.

“The high temperatures inside Shady Oaks are inexcusable. Yesterday’s police report listed the temperature inside the home as a sweltering 89 degrees – only six degrees cooler than the outside temperature.

“We know that extreme weather affects the very young and the aged population more harshly than the rest of us, but many Shady Oaks residents have recently been released from mental institutions and half-way houses, and any extreme temperatures can cause tempers to flare, leading to dangerous situations. We must make an extra effort to ensure that facilities that cater to these groups are kept up to temperature standards in the winter and summer months.

“Inspectors from the State Department of Community Affairs (DCA) returned to Shady Oaks this morning, and found the temperature in the common area to be below 83 degrees. State law requires that temperatures remain below 83 degrees in common areas, so while the facility met the State regulation, more than likely it was much warmer inside bedrooms and other private areas.

“I am looking into introducing legislation to lower the maximum temperature inside all facilities like Shady Oaks, because it is not an issue of local politics, but one of a need for regulatory change throughout New Jersey. This one situation occurred in Gloucester County, but it is something that could happen anywhere. It’s up to the State to make sure that temperatures are bearable at all institutions.”

According to today’s Gloucester County Times, State DCA inspectors cited Shady Oaks on June 27 for allowing temperatures inside the facility to reach as high as 91 degrees. At the DCA’s request, five air conditioners were installed, bringing the total to six, all of which were running during Monday’s temperature check. In January of this year, DCA inspectors found that the facility only heated to 69.9 degrees. State law requires boarding homes to maintain a temperature of at least 72 degrees during the day, and a minimum of 68 degrees at night. During a February 23 police check, the temperature inside the home was only 50 degrees, Senator Sweeney said.