With no buyer found for the Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center, the facility is likely to close by mid-August, or once all of its existing patients have been transferred, Sussex County Commissioner Jill Space reported on June 8.
A Superior Court judge ordered a receivership after the state’s Dept. of Health and Human Services found the facility failed to maintain adequate staffing levels, as recommended by the Atlantic Health System, which was selected in March to monitor operations.
Space said the county had about three meetings with the New Jersey Dept. of Health regarding the facility, formerly known as Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, located in Andover.
As of June 8, there were 339 residents at the facility, 136 of which were from New York State. The National Guard is also stationed at the facility to supplement staffing and help care for the residents.
Space said the National Guard is expected to remain at the facility through the middle of July. The state is also looking at providing retention bonuses for employees who choose to remain working at the facility until it closes. Current employees will receive assistance to access job training.
The state Dept. of Health and Human Services is in the process of drafting letters to the families and guardians of Woodland residents with information on the relocation process.
Space said state officials have indicated they will try to place Sussex County-based Woodland residents close to home, if possible, to limit travel barriers for families.
“There are 500 beds available in facilities across the state of New Jersey for residents to consider,” Space said. “Guardians and their families must approve the identified relocation facility.”
At least 83 residents have reportedly died of COVID-19 in the facility to date. The nursing home has a long-term care bed capacity of 543.
During the beginning of the pandemic, in April 2020, a police inspection of Woodland found 17 bodies piled in a morgue that only had space for four, which prompted further investigation and a civil penalty of $220,235, among other actions.
“There’s been years of neglect and mismanagement at the facility,” Commissioner Dawn Fantasia said. “I am so saddened that it took the COVID pandemic to open the state’s eyes and return with oversight.”