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New Jersey nursing home with overwhelmed morgue fined for violations

A patient is moved out of a nursing home in California. In New Jersey, the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II facility faces a fine for multiple violations. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
A patient is moved out of a nursing home in California. In New Jersey, the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II facility faces a fine for multiple violations. Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo

May 9 (UPI) -- Federal health officials fined a New Jersey nursing home where last month authorities discovered 17 bodies piled in a small morgue.

The $220,000 fine from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services was for violations of federal requirements. The Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II facility in Sussex County spurred a review of all long-term care facilities in the state in April after experiencing a high number of deaths related to COVID-19.

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U.S. Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., who asked the CMS and state to investigate the facility, announced the results of the probe in a statement Friday. He said the Sussex County facility was fined more than $14,000 per day for the 15 days in which it was out of compliance.

"I am absolutely disgusted and heartbroken for the residents, staff, and families about the conditions this CMS inspection has uncovered from the facility in Andover. The loss of life and the circumstances that so many of the residents faced are a complete tragedy," Gottheimer said.

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The CMS inspection found that the nursing home had a number of "serious and alarming concerns," including:

-- Multiple patients with elevated temperatures with no documented follow-up by healthcare workers.

-- The placement of patients with suspected COVID-19 with residents who were asymptomatic.

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-- Lack of documentation of symptoms and vitals.

-- Insufficient personal protection equipment for staff.

The CMS documented one case in which a resident was found on the floor by a bed with an injury on their head. One day later, they were pronounced dead. The CMS said the patient's doctor noted in their chart that the patient had a "high fever for the last few days" that wasn't brought to the doctor's attention. The doctor also questioned whether a coronavirus test had been performed on the resident.

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As of this week, the nursing home had 133 confirmed cases among residents and 54 among staff. Ninety-five people have died, including one staff member.

"These failures in proper infection control practices had the potential to affect all residents in the facility through the development and transmission of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases," the CMS said. "It was determined that the provider's non-compliance with one or more requirements of participation has caused, or was likely to cause, serious injury, harm impairment or death to residents."

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