'Serious and alarming' report released on Andover nursing home

Andover. A recent federal inspection cites a multitude of failures at Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II that put staff and residents in “immediate jeopardy” and at risk for "serious injury, serious harm or death." The National Guard has been deployed to the facility to help nursing and janitorial staff.

08 May 2020 | 11:02

A report released on May 7 found that Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II, which has suffered mass deaths from COVID-19, was far out of compliance with federal requirements.

U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) said an inspection by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, cited "a variety of serious and alarming concerns" at the 700-bed nursing home:

● On April 10, a resident was found on the floor by their bed with a small head abrasion, after falling on a wet floor. The resident was pronounced dead the next morning. Handwritten notes from the resident’s physician stated: “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 had no documented clinical assessment or follow-up from medical staff.

● Patients under investigation for COVID-19 were placed in rooms with asymptomatic residents. In one case, a patient was moved to a different room only after their test came back positive.

● A review of facility documentation found missing temperature logs and a lack of documentation of residents' symptoms.

● A resident was documented on April 6 with a temperature of 104.9. The following day, the resident’s temperature was not documented at all. The resident was found unresponsive and pronounced dead on April 8. “No documentation of coronavirus monitoring was found regarding the respiratory symptoms which included coughing or shortness of breath assessment” for this resident, the inspection report stated.

● On April 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.

● In multiple instances, staff had insufficient PPE (personal protective equipment) protection.

● Staff and residents were in “immediate jeopardy” and their "health and safety at risk for serious injury, serious harm ... or death.”

According to county data received last week, 133 residents and 54 staff members at Andover Subacute II have tested positive for COVID-19. In total, 94 residents and 1 staff member have died.

“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 Gottheimer. "The loss of life and the circumstances that so many of the residents faced are a complete tragedy."

Mutty Scheinbaum, who owns and operates both Andover facilities, said in a statement that both facilities have implemented protocols to combat the spread of the virus. "The review of Andover Subacute I concluded that the facility was in compliance with applicable guidelines. (Federal authorities) noted areas of improvement for Andover Subacute II, but determined that the facility's remediation plan was acceptable as fatalities continue to drop at the facility,'' Scheinbaum said.

National Guard arrives in Andover

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued fines with ongoing penalties and continued oversight.

Gottheimer said CMS has imposed a civil money penalty of $220,235 for the 15 days of "immediate jeopardy" and "substandard quality of care" from April 6 through 20 -- more than $14,000 per day -- in addition to other fines. The penalties will continue to accrue until "substantial compliance is achieved or termination occurs."

Andover Subacute II facility must within ten calendar days submit a Plan of Correction for the deficiencies cited by CMS .

Anthony J. Fasano, a Sussex County freeholder and liaison to the Division of Health, called for the National Guard to protect vulnerable residents at Andover Subacute. New Jersey has since deployed the National Guard to the facility to help the nursing and cleaning staff, with the first soldiers arriving May 8.

Gov. Phil Murphy said nursing homes need "some relief from the bullpen." The development came the same day federal health authorities fined the facility $220,000.

Gottheimer said he is working with Sussex County Sheriff Michael Strada, Andover Township Mayor Michael Lensak, and local law enforcement to get more PPE to nursing home personnel. "We will not beat this virus and flatten the curve if the coronavirus is able to continue to spread like wildfire in our long-term care facilities," he said.

Half of NJ COVID-19 deaths are in nursing homes

Murphy said more than half of New Jersey's 8,801 deaths have come from long-term care facilities. He said 120 National Guard soldiers will be sent to those facilities to protect staff and residents, with soldiers arriving in Andover first.

According to the state health department, five long-term care facilities in Sussex County have suffered outbreaks, with a total of 336 coronavirus cases and 100 deaths as of May 12. Countywide, there are 1,046 cases with 130 deaths as of May 12.

On Monday, 72 deaths from COVID-19 were reported at the state-run New Jersey Veterans Home at Paramus.

Last week, Gottheimer introduced new bipartisan with Congressman Chris Smith (NJ-4) — the Nursing Home Pandemic Protection Act of 2020 — to codify into federal law new requirements that nursing homes report communicable diseases, infections, and potential outbreaks to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and that residents and their families be kept informed of infections inside the facilities; as well as requiring facilities have both a crisis plan in place to manage an outbreak and a stockpile of PPE on hand.

Editor's note: The Associated Press contributed to the reporting of this story.

“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. The loss of life and the circumstances that so many of the residents faced are a complete tragedy." --U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5)