Sharon Farrell traveled from Florida to New Jersey in December 2019 to visit her brother Stephen, who was in a care home there, and encountered “disgusting” circumstances, according to Sharon. According to her, she told the nurse, “I am calling the state.” As a dog owner, “I’m spending $9,000 a month, and I wouldn’t let my dog live this way.”
During the rapid spread of Covid-19 four months later, Farrell called the facility to inquire about her brother’s condition. Finally getting through to someone, she was told he was alright. However, he died after a few days.
The Andover Subacute II nursing home in Sussex County, New Jersey, where 17 remains were found in a tiny mortuary in April 2020, is now 19 months old. The proprietors were penalized $221,115 by the federal government for not being in “substantial compliance,” and an investigation was launched by the attorney general’s office.
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However, the company’s founders are still active. Andover and its sister facility now go by different names, and new signs have been put up in front. There were 25 people with Covid in Andover on Friday, according to state records.
Even though one of the owners, Louis Schwartz, helped run a chain called Skyline Healthcare, which collapsed in 2019 amid accusations of neglect and financial mismanagement, which the chain denied, the owners are still being paid by Medicare and Medicaid, the taxpayer-funded programs that pay most costs for U.S. nursing home operators.
Subacute care facilities in Andover were renamed to better reflect the new name of the facility: Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center at Andover.
It was renamed Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center at Andover in Andover, Massachusetts.
Professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School David Grabowski remarked, “The persons who operated Skyline should not ever be in charge of a nursing home again.” A lack of money and regulation has already put the business in peril, he claimed.
Different titles but the same behaviors are what Grabowski argued. As a result, “we need to ensure that there aren’t these kinds of back doors, that nursing homes can’t simply put a new name on the property and continue to function as before.”
Some relatives of those who died at Andover have expressed their displeasure with the facility’s perceived lack of preparedness to cope with Covid and for allowing the infected and healthy to mix.
When asked about the class action, Farrell said: “I couldn’t care less about it.” “I’d want to see these guys go out of business.”
On top of more than 100 locations, Skyline Healthcare was responsible for more than 7,100 elderly citizens. As a result, more than a dozen Skyline nursing homes shut their doors between 2017 and 2019, causing upheaval for residents, vendors, staff, and state regulators.
Money ran out in many households. Government documents show that some businesses were shut down because of a lack of accountability. According to an inspection, officials found maggots in a catheter in a nursing home in Arkansas. More than 900 inhabitants had to be relocated to new facilities after 14 homes were forced to close permanently.
Multiple attempts to reach Joseph Schwartz and his son Louis for comment went unanswered in 2019. They’ve refuted the claims of neglect that were made against them.
Nursing homes are still a family business for the Schwartzes. According to federal nursing facility ownership records, Joseph Schwartz is still identified as the owner or co-owner of four nursing homes.
At least seven nursing homes are owned by Louis Schwartz and Chaim Scheinbaum, including the former Andover Subacute II.
As of January 2020, New York health officials have recommended against giving Scheinbaum the authority to take over a nursing home in upstate New York because of a “ongoing inquiry” and because of his “character and competency,” according to a Health Department document. When contacted to comment on the recommendation, Scheinbaum did not answer.
A federal inspection conducted a year prior to the Covid outbreak discovered a female Andover resident with dementia sitting in the snow with serious frostbite at 4:30 a.m. after leaving the institution through two damaged doors. Terri Thompson, her daughter, filed a lawsuit against the institution, claiming that it had failed to meet the basic standard of care required by the state of California. The owners have refuted the claims in the complaint.
Dante Maglioli revealed that his father, Joseph, had voiced his dissatisfaction with the care he was receiving at Andover in the early 2020s. Moving him to another facility was being discussed by his family members.
According to Maglioli, he was able to hear his mother and father on the phone as Covid began spreading. Despite his father’s reassurances, Andover’s mother feared he would be unable to cope with the new, lethal sickness. After that, “my sister never talked to my dad again,” according to Maglioli. On April 9th, 2020, Maglioli’s father passed away.
Prior to the pandemic, Schwartz and Scheinbaum did not react to questions regarding Andover’s conditions.
Nursing institutions in New York and New Jersey, notably Andover, were the first to bear the brunt of the pandemic. In the first four months of the epidemic, 83 of the home’s 539 inhabitants died from Covid. Among the dead was Farrell’s younger brother.
A patient is loaded into an ambulance at Andover Subacute and Rehab Center in Andover, New Jersey, on April 16, 2020, during the Covid-19 epidemic.
On April 16, 2020, health care workers at Andover Subacute and Rehab Center in Andover, New Jersey, are preparing to transfer a patient to an ambulance.
Reuter’s file photo shows Stefan Jeremiah.
One of the facility’s maintenance workers at the time, Preston Nicolai, described it as “horrific.”
According to the manager, we were losing anywhere from 10 to 12 individuals per night on average.
When Nicolai arrived at Andover, he was told that he had to shift residents from room to room regardless of whether or not the facility had Covid on hand. This, he asserted, “helped spread instances of Covid across the premises.”
There was a sudden increase in deaths, and Nicolai was directed to stack bodies on top of each other in a small chamber.
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A woman’s body was found in outdoor maintenance shed on Easter Sunday, April 12, by Nicolai, who went to work and discovered shovels, rakes, and a lawnmower nearby. He claimed that there was no more room in the nursing home for corpses.
He said, “I was so ethically distraught.” When I placed someone’s loved one out in the shed, it seemed so awful.
However, he is still haunted by the memories of the incident. When he said, “I’ve had pretty awful dreams, and I don’t have the money to pay a therapist,” he meant it.
Records obtained by NBC News through open records request illustrate the facility’s struggles in April 2020 to deal with the outbreak.
Andover staff employees sent emails to Sussex County officials requesting personal safety equipment (PPE), like masks and gloves, which were sent to the site.
Kyle Wilson, a licensed nurse, sent to the Andover Township chief of police a description of an inspection from the early morning hours of April 12 detailing the conditions within the facility days before the initial story surfaced about remains crammed into the tiny morgue. Dispatchers said that Wilson works part-time for the police department. Inquiries for comment went unanswered by him.
Wilson wrote that Sussex County Sheriff’s Office protective gear was missing from the site. “Aware of a batch of PPE ‘donated by the Sheriff’s office’ but could not account for its whereabouts or the inventory of the facility’s existing PPE, if such an inventory exists,” an Andover employee told him.
A coronavirus-infected New Jersey nursing home was found to have 17 dead bodies, according to police.
IN THE MIDDLE OF APRIL 2002
“Staff was observed to be touching their PPE (facial shield, gown, mask) and their face with bare hands,” Wilson wrote. According to his account, he “confronted the on-duty nurse about this observed behavior. Because she was ‘not in a room,’ she assured me that everything would be fine.”
Wilson reported that no one at the facility had tested for Covid and that individuals suspected of having the disease had not been separated from the rest of the population. “It is my belief that the acquisition of PPE alone will not resolve the rate of spread at this plant,” he stated. Staff is unquestionably infected during their shift. However, this facility does not have a strong sense of safety among its employees. They haven’t had the opportunity to learn. It’s impossible for them to comprehend what they don’t know.”
In an email sent to county officials two days later, Carol Novrit, a federal Department of Health and Human Services administrator stationed in Sussex County, claimed that Andover staff had informed her that residents were “not being fed,” that residents had “open wounds,” and that deaths of both residents and staff members had not been reported to public health officials. When she inquired about “infection control,” the personnel informed her that “there is none.”
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When contacted by NBC News about the materials they obtained, Schwartz and Scheinbaum declined to comment.
According to federal inspection reports conducted in mid-April 2020, people with symptoms were mixed in with those who were otherwise healthy.
In the end, it’s impossible to find out.
It was “frequently hard to know who had Covid and who didn’t” at the time, according to representatives for the owners.
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