‘This is a real life or death situation…’ NJ seeks to relocate all nursing home residents; revoke license

The New Jersey Department of Health, which earlier this week went to court to take over the Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center in Andover, is now revoking its license, amid growing concerns over the welfare of hundreds of people who live there.

The department, in new court filings, said it found the retirement home posed an “immediate and serious risk of harm to the health, safety and well-being of long-term care residents,” and called to the withdrawal and transfer of everyone from the facility.

It is one of the largest nursing homes in the state.

The action came a day after federal regulators said it would cut all Medicaid and Medicare funding to the beleaguered nursing facility in rural Sussex County, following major violations that officials say officials, posed a threat to the lives of the nearly 400 residents who call this home.

In issuing its notice of revocation, effective Aug. 15, the state health department accused the facility “of failing to comply with licensing requirements, showing a pattern and pattern of license violation and failing to substantially correct the violations, despite multiple enforcement actions” the department issued to him in an attempt to bring Woodland into compliance.

“Because 366 residents currently reside in Woodland, who are almost entirely dependent on CMS funding for their health, safety and well-being, plaintiffs, through a court-appointed receiver, must significantly expedite and immediately transitioning patients from Woodland to other facilities to avoid a situation where federal funding runs out while the transition, which has begun, is underway,” Deputy Health Commissioner Robin Ford said in an additional filing in Sussex County Superior Court, warning: “This is a real life and – death situation.

The Woodland operators, in their own court filings opposing the appointment of a receiver, spoke out for the first time since the last crisis, calling New Jersey’s action a “lewd overreach” that ignored significant facts demonstrating “the total irregularity of the state’s demands”. .”

The nursing home’s attorneys also noted that the patient population served by Woodland was “unique” and unlike that of other New Jersey long-term care facilities.

“Most residents have advanced dementia, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or other serious mental illnesses. Many have no parents, some are convicted felons or registered sex offenders, and many are wards of the state under the guardianship of the New Jersey Department of Social Services’ Office of the Public Guardian,” wrote the attorney Peter Slocum, who represents Alliance Healthcare. Lakewood Holdings, which operates Woodland.

He said “caring for this unique population presents its own challenges, beyond those that present themselves in more traditional long-term care facilities.”

Woodland has been under surveillance for years. It sparked national media coverage and renewed scrutiny from federal and state officials and regulators after police discovered 17 bodies in a temporary nursing home morgue over an Easter weekend in April 2020.

The US Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services later fined Woodland $220,235.

A resident is placed in an ambulance at what was then the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center in April 2020 when police found 17 bodies stored in a makeshift morgue.Ed Murray | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Formerly known as Andover Subaigu and Rehabilitation Center, the facility changed its name to Woodland Behavioral after the scandal. (A sister facility adjacent to Andover under the same ownership, which was known as Andover Subacute I, has been renamed Limecrest Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, and has not been subject to state or federal enforcement action .)

Alliance leaders include CEO Chaim “Mutty” Scheinbaum and Louis Schwartz – the son of Joseph Schwartz. The elder Schwartz was indicted in January in a multimillion-dollar federal tax evasion scheme in connection with Skyline Healthcare, his bankrupt home chain that sought to buy Woodland when it was still known as ‘Andover Subacute.

Separately, the property owners who lease the nursing home building on Mulford Road in Andover to Alliance – a limited liability company known as BNJD Mulford Property – said in its own response to the court that the The state had “conveniently ignored” the fact that they had submitted a “comprehensive and detailed plan” to the Department of Health weeks ago that would “fully address the financial and condition-related issues” alleged by the state.

BNJD Mulford said it also signed an agreement with Louis Schwartz removing it from the facility’s license and also signed an agreement with Woodland that would allow it to bring in an outside management company to take control of operations of the retirement home.

In February, the New Jersey State Comptroller’s Office named Woodland one of the 15 worst performing long-term care facilities in New Jersey.

But the crisis at Woodland suddenly exploded, seemingly out of control, when a health inspection the same month found the facility had “failed to adequately prevent abuse and neglect,” issuing a statement of “imminent danger” due to residents’ concerns.

Among the state’s alarming details is the lack of any effort to resuscitate a 55-year-old resident found in cardiac arrest and not breathing on New Year’s Day.

In a separate incident, a report on the findings of the inspection noted that a nurse’s aide allegedly left a resident soiled with feces for ten hours overnight. The unnamed resident already had a pressure sore, or eschar, which was said to be exacerbated by dampness and susceptible to infection.

And for a two-week period from late December through January, not a single day went by without enough certified nurse aides on duty to care for its residents, regulators found. Sometimes the nursing home operated with only half the staff required by state mandates.

These staffing issues have not gone away. NJ Advance Media reported this month that Woodland, along with 6 out of 10 nursing homes in New Jersey, failed to maintain adequate staffing levels.

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Meanwhile, officials at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services unveiled even more egregious findings on Thursday, announcing they would end Woodland from all federal funding.

Citing surveys from January to May, CMS said Woodland’s “serious multiple deficiencies in infection control” had resulted in 30 resident deaths since October 2021 due to COVID-19.

The agency said the nursing home failed to administer emergency medication to a resident, which led to the individual’s hospitalization and death.

“Despite several opportunities to remedy their non-compliance, Woodland has not demonstrated that it can ensure the health, safety and well-being of its residents,” the agency said in a statement, issuing a letter. of involuntary layoff cutting off the nursing home from all Medicare and Medicaid funding as of June 25.

The funding cut itself would force the facility, which relies heavily on Medicaid and Medicare, to close.

Woodland already has negative cash flow and limited borrowing capacity, state officials say.

As of January 31, Woodland’s balance sheet showed total assets of about $15.8 million and total liabilities of about $19.8 million, according to the state, expressing doubts about the house’s ability pension to pay his debts as they fall due.

The state health department suspended new admissions to Woodland in February. Since then, its population has grown from around 450 to the 366 who live there today.


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Ted Sherman can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @TedShermanSL

Susan K. Livio can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @SusanKLivio.

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