Andover Nursing Home Subject to State Takeover

Source: New Jersey

Two years after 17 bodies were discovered in a nursing home’s “makeshift morgue,” New Jersey will seek control of the Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center.

Despite state oversight, Gov. Phil Murphy claimed that those running the troubled facility “refuse to take responsibility for the people in their care.”The state will seek a court order to take over the nursing facility so it can appoint a receiver to control Woodland’s operations.

In March, the New Jersey Department of Health appointed Atlantic Health System — a major North Jersey health care provider — to monitor Woodland after the state cited the nursing home for health and safety violations. Despite the oversight, state officials claim the facility’s operators have failed to maintain adequate staffing or safe care.

Nearly 30 percent of New Jersey’s confirmed COVID deaths are linked to nursing homes and longterm-care facilities, with 9,108 deaths — including 139 staff members — since the pandemic began. Murphy’s administration has received scrutiny for its handling of COVID in nursing homes, especially after the state agreed to pay $52.9 million to the families of 119 nursing-home residents whose early-pandemic deaths were attributed to the virus.

According to State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, “After 10,000 nursing and veterans home residents paid with their lives, millions of New Jersey taxpayers will be forced to pay with their wallets to settle claims of negligence and incompetence made against the administration.”

The state will hold meetings with staff, residents, families and resident right’s advocates in the coming days to clearly communicate the situation, according to the Murphy administration. State officials said the appreciate Woodland’s frontline staff, who “remain essential during this anticipated transition.”

“Conditions at Woodland remain poor for the residents who live there and for the dedicated direct care staff who work there,” said Laurie Brewer, the state’s longterm-care ombudsman. “The people living at Woodland deserve capable, committed leadership from facility operators who value their autonomy, dignity and quality of life, yet current leadership has clearly failed to even marginally turn things around.”

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