In April 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, police in New Jersey were dispatched to the Andover Subacute II nursing home in response to an anonymous tip.
They discovered 17 bodies in a morgue that was designed to hold four. The attorney general’s office opened an investigation. Family members of residents described “disgusting” conditions at the nursing home. A total of 83 of the facility’s 539 residents died of COVID within four months. The federal government fined the owners $221,115.
Nineteen months later, the nursing home is still in operation under a new name – Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center at Andover. The owners are the same and are still being paid by Medicare and Medicaid. One of those owners, Louis Schwartz, helped run Skyline Healthcare, a nursing home chain that collapsed in 2019 and faced accusations of neglect and financial mismanagement.
Family Members Take Legal Action
“Different names, same practices,” said David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School. “The individuals that ran Skyline should not ever be in charge of a nursing home again, and yet here we are.”
Sharon Farrell, whose brother Stephen died at the home, joined a lawsuit with other families. They say the facility was not prepared to deal with the pandemic and negligently mixed infected residents with those who were healthy, causing conditions to get worse.
Farrell says she has only one goal with the class action suit.
“I want these guys out of business,” she said.
Schwartz and Chaim Scheinbaum are part owners of at least seven nursing homes between them. In January 2020, New York health officials recommended against Scheinbaum taking ownership of a nursing home in the state. They cited an “ongoing investigation” and noted they did not approve of his “character and competence.”
Documents obtained by NBC News show that the Andover facility struggled in the first few months of the pandemic. Emails from staff members reveal an ongoing shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE). A registered nurse at the facility told police about improper use of existing PPE, a lack of testing, and failure to segregate patients who were infected with COVID.
Holding Negligent Facilities Accountable
Federal inspectors had similar observations in mid-April 2020. Owners of the Andover facility say those problems have been resolved with state and federal regulators.
According to state data, 25 residents of the facility had COVID as of late November.
The attorney general’s office in New Jersey indicated the investigation was ongoing and said it would not release any information until enforcement action is taken or the matter is closed.
When we are faced with the difficult decision to place our loved ones in a nursing home, we trust that their needs will be met and that their health will be a top priority. Nursing homes that fail to meet this basic responsibility need to be held accountable.
The experienced nursing home abuse and neglect lawyers at Braswell Murphy, LLC fight for the rights of nursing home residents in Alabama and Mississippi. We know how to investigate cases of neglect and abuse to gather evidence that builds strong cases. We also consult experts who can help us determine whether residents received adequate care.
Our firm focuses on making sure residents are safe and helping them get justice.
If you suspect a loved one is being abused or neglected in a nursing home, we can help. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.