NJ nursing home under surveillance after bodies found in makeshift mortuary hit again in new COVID outbreak

The nursing home where 17 stacked bodies were discovered in 2020, some in a makeshift mortuary, reported the state’s worst COVID-19 outbreak, according to data compiled by the Department of Health – which followed a sudden spike in cases in long-term care facilities over the past week.

The Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center, formerly known as Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II, has at least 182 residents and more than 100 staff who have tested positive amid the ongoing omicron wave. This is the highest number of new COVID cases in a string of outbreaks that have affected more than 500 long-term care facilities across the state since the dying days of 2021.

According to the Department of Health, only 84% of residents in Woodland have been vaccinated, compared to an average of 92.8% statewide, while 44% of residents at Andover Institution have received booster injections. Statewide, the average of people in nursing homes receiving callbacks is 79.4%. State officials said 83% of staff are vaccinated there, but only 11% have received boosters. The state’s overall recall rate for staff is now 44.4%, officials said.

According to the state, three residents have died of COVID-related causes in Woodland during the current outbreak.

Additional cases have been reported at an immediately adjacent facility, the Limecrest Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, which was previously Andover Subacute and Rehab Center I. Both are owned by the same owner, records show. The two nursing homes represent one of the largest long-term care facilities in the state.

Woodland officials, reached by phone on Friday, declined to comment. A message left with Chaim “Mutty” Scheinbaum, CEO of Alliance Healthcare of Lakewood, which owns Woodland and Limecrest (and owned Andover Subacute I and II before the facilities were renamed), was not returned.

Meanwhile, Representative Josh Gottheimer, D-5th Dist., On Thursday asked the US Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to review the current situation in Woodland.

Gottheimer requested an update on the facility’s compliance with the corrective measures ordered after a CMS inspection in May 2020, following the sudden increase in nursing home deaths after revelations about a morgue in fortune. Gottheimer also requested an update from the state attorney general’s office on its ongoing publicly announced investigation into the facility.

“Now, more than a year after these initial findings, the facility owes the public and the families of those who impacted their compliance with federal care requirements,” Gottheimer said in a letter to federal regulators .

COVID outbreaks caused by the highly contagious variant of omicron have led to a rapid return of the virus to vulnerable populations in nursing homes across the state in the past week alone.

More than 3 in 4 of the state’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities now have epidemics, according to data from the state’s Department of Health – those numbers having jumped nearly 25% in the past. over the past week.

Currently, there are 503 outbreaks in the state’s 655 nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other long-term care facilities, health officials reported.

Yet vaccinations among those working in long-term care facilities have fallen behind schedule. Only 87% of staff in state long-term care facilities are vaccinated and only 42.1% are vaccinated with a booster.

The Andover nursing home came into the spotlight shortly after Easter weekend in 2020, when police were notified and asked to provide 25 body bags. They found five bodies stored in a room configured as a mortuary, officials said, and 12 others stored elsewhere.

CMS inspectors visited the scene on April 21, 2020, after the organizations’ reports made national headlines. They then cited the Subacute Andover for failures in proper infection control practices that had the potential to affect all residents of the facility through the development and transmission of COVID and other infectious diseases. The federal agency imposed fines and penalties of $ 220,235 and asked the facility to submit a remedial plan for the cited deficiencies.

Gottheimer, in his letter this week to HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, said that “families should have confidence that aging parents and veterans will be well cared for in their later years. whether they reside in a private or state-run sector. -long-term care facilities.

A spokeswoman for the New Jersey Department of Health said the state remains “very focused” on outbreaks in nursing homes, not only in Woodland, but in all long-term care facilities.

“This virus searches for vulnerable elderly people with compromised immune status and we are finding epidemics statewide,” said Donna Leusner. “The omicron variant represents 98% of the sequenced specimens we see in New Jersey. The omicron variant is highly, highly transmissible.

She noted that the state had requested and received assistance from the New Jersey National Guard for more than a dozen facilities to help current staff ensure adequate care for residents. One of those teams will report to the Sussex County Woodland Nursing Center next week.

“In addition, the ministry’s long-term care resilience office provides support and resources and the ministry’s communicable disease service and local health service provide guidance as part of their regular communication,” a- she declared.

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Ted Sherman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on twitter @TedShermanSL

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