ANDOVER, NJ – It has been the poster child of death and disorder during the COVID-19 crisis here in New Jersey. As of one month ago, 70 people had already died at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, owned and operated by Chaim Scheinbaum of Lakewood. The nursing home made international headlines after workers, according to police, stashed bodies in an outdoor shed after the facility’s small morgue overflowed.
Now, Governor Murphy is sending the National Guard to assisted living facilities across the state and 22 of those soldiers are heading to the gruesome nursing home of death in Andover.
“We don’t take this step lightly, but we take it knowing that the crisis in our long-term care facilities requires us to take it,” Murphy said, adding that the soldiers will be doing janitorial work, logistics, food services and working as nurses aides. None of the soldiers will be working in a medical or clinical capacity.
The small town of Andover, New Jersey has a very big coronavirus problem, and after 68 people died as of April 15th at the home, police received a phone call about a body being stored in a shed at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, police investigated. Many of those deaths were not reported as bodies piled up in a makeshift morgue by the time police were alerted.
In New Jersey, more than half of all COVID-19 deaths are related to assisted living facilities and the gruesome discovery at Andover has prompted Governor Murphy to instruct Attorney General Gurbir Grewal to launch a full investigation into the incidents occurring at many facilities across the state.
“In the wake, in specific of the tragedy at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center One and Two, I asked the Attorney General to look into the matter and to review all long-term care facilities that have experienced a disproportionate number of deaths,” Murphy said this week. “I’ve asked him to join us today to speak to the task force that he has assembled to lead this charge, as well as to the new online hub through which residents and employees, and the families of those working and living in long-term care facilities can submit complaints for further review.”
“I have said time and again that the inconsistent performance by operators in the long-term care facility space is extremely disappointing, and I’ll use a more diplomatic, that’s a diplomatic word,” Murphy said on Friday. “But there’s an unevenness and folks out there have lived this. Everything from what they did, actually, inside of facilities, to communication to loved ones and everything in between. It’s why the Attorney General’s investigating it. It’s why we’ve brought in a nationally recognized team to help us. It’s why the National Guard is at Andover Subacute, I think as we speak, with 22 folks.”
Scheinbaum said he and his facility are cooperating with state and federal authorities and doing their best to come into compliance after receiving a $220,000 fine by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
“We took every possible step to handle this surge internally while simultaneously making dozens of outreaches to local, state, and federal agencies for help,” Scheinbaum said. “Andover is extremely grateful to those entities that offered what assistance they could, but the overall system was inundated, and many entities were simply not in a position to help.”
“I am absolutely disgusted and heartbroken for the residents, staff, and families about the conditions this CMS inspection has uncovered from the facility in Andover,” said New Jersey Congressman Josh Gottheimer who called for the CMS inspection. “The loss of life and the circumstances that so many of the residents faced are a complete tragedy. This is why I’ve been working with NJDOH, the Governor, and FEMA to get the National Guard and the VA into facilities like Andover Subacute to assist staff and help keep residents safe. ”
CMS cited Andover’s failures in proper infection control practices had the potential to affect all residents in the facility through the development and transmission of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. It was determined that the provider’s non-compliance with one or more requirements of participation has caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury, harm impairment or death to residents.
Here’s some of what CMS cited in their report:
- On 4/10, a resident was found on the floor by the bed, had fallen on the wet floor and obtained a small abrasion on the head. The resident was pronounced dead the morning of 4/11. The following is an excerpt from hand written notes from the resident’s physician: “Found dead this am…not performed Physical-COVID-19 test was done?…High fever for the last few days – that was not brought to my attention. Flu like illness, likely COVID-19.”
- Multiple patients with elevated temperatures and no documented clinical assessment or follow-up from medical staff;
- Documented incidences of a patient under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 being placed in a room with a resident who was asymptomatic. In one case, the PUI’s test came back positive and only then was the resident moved to a different room;
- Review of facility documentation found several missing elements including missing temperature logs for residents and a lack of documentation of resident symptoms;
- A resident was documented to have a temperature of 104.9 on 4/6. The following day, the resident’s temperature was not documented at all. The resident was found unresponsive and pronounced dead on 4/8. “No documentation of coronavirus monitoring was found regarding the respiratory symptoms which included coughing or shortness of breath assessment” for this resident;
- On 4/16, a resident was admitted to the hospital with respiratory failure and possible COVID-19. There were no documented notes in the resident’s temperature log regarding their condition for the previous five shifts and no test had been ordered for the resident. The resident was subsequently intubated at the hospital;
- Multiple instances of insufficient PPE usage and protection for staff in the facility.