The New Jersey Department of Health said Wednesday it has selected Atlantic Health System to serve as a monitor at the troubled Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center in Andover.
The move came in the wake of a scathing state report last month citing the nursing home in Sussex County for health care violations that officials claim had threatened the lives and safety of the more than 450 residents who live at the Sussex County nursing home. Those violations led to an order by the Health Department to curtail all new admissions and the decision to seek a monitor to oversee the facility, one of the largest nursing homes in New Jersey.
“Atlantic Health will convene a multi-disciplinary team to conduct an onsite assessment of business practices, operations, and infrastructure, and will remain onsite for up to 90 days. Weekly reports will be provided to the department throughout the monitoring period,” said health officials.
They noted that Newton Medical Center, which is part of Atlantic Health System’s western region, is located less than 5 miles from Woodland, and has “long provided inpatient and ambulatory care” for the residents of the facility.
During the pandemic, Atlantic Health System provided PPE gowns and masks, as well as fit testing for staff at the nursing home. Officials said the health system partnered with the department to conduct COVID-19 testing for Woodland staff and residents as well.
The Department of Health had threatened the nursing home with outright closure through a suspension or revocation of its New Jersey license if the Woodland had not corrected its most serious violations within 72 hours, following the state’s findings. A spokeswoman for the Health Department said those deficiencies had since been corrected.
In a statement last week, nursing home officials said: “Woodland is working cooperatively with CMS (the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) to ensure that all applicable requirements are met and that it continues to provide appropriate care for its residents.”
Labeled as one of the worst nursing homes in New Jersey, the state 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.
And one nursing home resident was ignored by a nurse and an aide for nearly an hour, state officials said, despite complaints of pain after a catheter became stuck in a motorized wheelchair.
Meanwhile, severe staffing shortage — cited by the state’s report — remain a problem, Health Department officials say. At times, Woodland operated with only half the staff mandated by New Jersey, according to the state’s initial violations notice.
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.
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