The state of New Jersey has the unfortunate distinction of having the highest per capita death rate in the nation due to COVID-19 within its long-term care facilities. As of May 2021, over 8,000 people have died in New Jersey long-term care facilities due to COVID-19.
One of the facilities that has come under repeated scrutiny during the pandemic is the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II, recently renamed the “Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center”. The facility is at the center of numerous lawsuits that relate to the pandemic, on the behalf of family members of residents as well as staff, all who claim the facility knowingly endangered everyone inside during the global pandemic.
Bodies Were “Stuffed” Into a Morgue
The Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II not only failed to properly care for residents, but in a horrifying decision, callously stuffed 17 bodies into a tiny morgue that was meant to house only four bodies at most. Police were initially responding to a tip about a body in a shed, and immediately transferred 13 of the bodies to a separate facility where they could be stored properly.
By April of 2021, over 90 residents and two staff members at the two Andover facilities had died from COVID-19, according to the Sussex County Division of Health. After issuing numerous citations in the early months of the pandemic, the state of New Jersey inevitably had to call in the National Guard to the facility as the pandemic wore on.
What Are the Complaints Against Andover II?
The Andover I and II are among the largest nursing homes in the state of New Jersey, with two facilities right next to each other holding a combined capacity for 700 patients. Numerous complaints have been filed against both facilities in the last year, stating that there were “Failures in proper infection control practices” that “had the potential to affect all residents in the facility”.
Details of specific instances of disturbing neglect are contained within the complaints. These include:
- A resident fell and sustained a head wound, and was pronounced dead the next day. The doctor’s note read “Not performed Physical-COVID-19 test was done? High fever…not brought to my attention.”
- Elevated temperature and COVID symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath were not documented.
- Residents displaying symptoms of COVID-19 were placed in rooms with residents who did not have symptoms.
- Beds where patients died were not disinfected.
- Residents were moved from room to room without masks being used.
- Insufficient PPE protection available for staff members
Long Term Issues With Long Term Care Facilities
The issues found at the Andover II were absolutely appalling, but many reports have long warned that the long-term care industry was unprepared for the pandemic. This is almost certainly in part due to the fact that one-third of all facilities have been cited for infection control violations prior to the pandemic, and there are enormous staffing shortages industry wide.
What’s more, around 74% of the state’s 370 nursing homes are owned by for-profit companies that often change hands. Who actually owns a nursing home is a convoluted question, often with no straight answer. The Andover was sold and renamed after making national news due to the horrors seen in the early days of the pandemic, but according to the website Nursing Home Compare, still has the same owners it had before the sale and renaming.
Nursing homes can change owners multiple times in a single week, and often have management and ownership structures that are purposefully complex in order to obscure who is ultimately responsible for delivering care – and who is ultimately responsible when major issues arise.
What Should You Do if Your Loved One Suffered Due to Negligence?
Our elders deserve to age with dignity, in safe environments that provide them with respect and care for their well being. If your loved one suffered due to negligence at a nursing home, you have every right to demand that those responsible be brought to justice. The team at Thistle Law can review your case with a free consultation, and can help you navigate the complex task of determining who is ultimately legally responsible in your particular case. We can be reached at 215-568-6824, or by filling out our contact form here.