N.J. nursing home blasted for endangering residents gets a reprieve. For now. – NJ.com

Federal regulators have backed off on an immediate threat to cut off the troubled Woodland Behavioral Health and Nursing Center in Andover from all Medicaid and Medicare funding.

But the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said Woodland remains in violation of a litany of nursing home requirements. It said the facility has until August 15 to make major changes or face the termination of all federal funding.

CMS said the facility will also be hit with financial penalties, which have yet to be imposed.

Menachem Spiegel, the administrator of Woodland, did not respond to requests for comment.

The nursing home in Sussex County had been threatened with a loss of its Medicaid and Medicare funding as early as this week, in the wake of a scathing state report citing the nursing home for health care violations that officials said had threatened the lives and safety of the more than 450 residents who live there. Those violations had placed residents in so-called “Immediate Jeopardy” over what CMS found to be a substandard quality of care.

Since then, the most serious violations have been corrected, federal officials said on Friday. But problems remain.

“Currently, the facility is not in compliance with the federal requirements and corrections must be made in order for the facility to continue to participate in the Medicare and Medicaid programs,” CMS said in a statement.

CMS had threatened to terminate Woodland’s provider agreement for Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement on March 3, based on the multiple findings of Immediate Jeopardy. After those citations were lifted, the threat was rescinded, the agency said. However, under federal law a provider cannot be out of compliance for more than six months.

Woodland could still be kicked out of the Medicare and Medicaid programs if the violations persist through August.

The nursing home, in the meantime, will be denied payment for any new admissions under Medicare and Medicaid, CMS said. That will continue “until substantial compliance is achieved, or termination occurs,” according to officials.

A full termination of federal funding would effectively shut down the facility in northern New Jersey, one of the largest nursing homes in the state. Woodland is heavily dependent on Medicaid as well as Medicare reimbursement to operate.

In a letter to Woodland, CMS told Spiegel that the facility was facing a civil monetary penalty as well. The agency has already raised the potential of a $11,292 fine for violations related to its nurse aide training program.

Labeled as one of the worst nursing homes in New Jersey, Woodland had earlier been ordered by the state Health Department to curtail all new admissions as a result of the violations. The state is also appointing a monitor who will conduct a full review of the facility’s operations.

The Department of Health had threatened the nursing home as well with outright closure through a suspension or revocation of its New Jersey license if the Woodland did not correct its most serious violations within 72 hours. A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said those deficiencies had been corrected.

“The department is awaiting a corrective action plan from the facility,” said Donna Leusner, who added that the state is continues to “actively explore the qualifications of candidates” who might be appointed as a monitor, but has yet to name anyone.

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Last month, the state issued a grim report that found Woodland had “failed to appropriately prevent abuse and neglect” of its residents. Surveyors for the Health Department cited failures to attempt resuscitation of several residents in cardiac arrest, including one 55-year-old individual found without a pulse or respirations on New Year’s Day last month. No calls were calls made to 911, nor did anyone perform CPR. The resident was ultimately pronounced dead.

A certified nurse aide, or CNA, left a resident soiled in feces for ten hours overnight. The unnamed resident, who already had a pressure ulcer or bedsore that would have been exacerbated by moisture and susceptible to infection, asked the staffing coordinator for a different caregiver, saying the aide made the unnamed individual “furious” and “scared.” The staffing coordinator never reported the matter to administrators, or the Department of Health, and the aide was never suspended.

Meanwhile, severe staffing shortage — cited by the state’s report — remain a problem, Health Department officials said.

At times, Woodland operated with only half the staff mandated by New Jersey, according to the state’s initial violations notice last month. During a two-week period from late December into January, not a single day went by when there were enough certified nurse aides on duty to care for more than 450 residents, regulators found.

“The facility is recruiting and hiring personnel to bring their staffing ratios in line (with the) resident census,” said Leusner this week.

Once known as the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, the facility changed its name to Woodland Behavioral after it became the focus of nationwide attention at the height of the pandemic when police were called to the nursing home over Easter Weekend in April 2020 and asked to bring a supply of body bags. They discovered the bodies of 17 residents, some being kept in a makeshift morgue.

While it changed its name to Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center at Andover (and an adjacent, sister facility was renamed Limecrest Subacute and Rehabilitation Center) following the public outrage over the high death toll there, it has remained under the same ownership.

Its owners include Chaim “Mutty” Scheinbaum of Lakewood and Louis Schwartz, the eldest son of Joseph Schwartz who was charged last month in a multi-million dollar federal tax fraud scheme in connection with Skyline Healthcare, his failed multi-state nursing home chain that had once sought to purchase the long-term care facility.


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Ted Sherman may be reached at tsherman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TedShermanSL

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