New Jersey‘s attorney general is investigating a COVID-19 outbreak at the state’s largest nursing home after police were called by a tipster and found 17 bodies that had not yet been removed.
“I am also outraged that bodies of the dead were allowed to pile up in a makeshift morgue at the facility,” Governor Phil Murphy said. “This is just completely beyond the pale.”
The space where the bodies were kept reportedly had a capacity to fit a maximum of four bodies.
Listen to Nancy Solomon’s report on WNYC:
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced the investigation into the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center and any nursing home that has a large number of infections or deaths due to COVID-19. The Andover facility is made up of two buildings with a combined bed capacity of 700. Currently, it has 420 patients.
The New Jersey Department of Health requested federal Medicare and Medicaid inspectors visit the nursing home, according to Health Commissioner Judy Persichelli. And the health department has also ordered supplies and a refrigerated truck to assist the facility.
“The total number of deaths as of April 15 at this facility was 57 total deaths of which 26 were COVID-19 related,” the Sussex County Department of Health stated in a press release.
The agency also reports that all 379 long-term care facilities in the state have at least one person who has tested positive for COVID-19; a total of 8,209 patients have tested positive and 720 have died.
Andover Subacute and Rehab is a for-profit business owned by Alliance HC Holdings LLC. Its larger of the two facilities received a “much below average” rating from Medicare for health, staffing, fire safety, and quality of residential care.
“Last Saturday, we were notified that the facility was in need of body bags for deceased residents,” said Persichelli. “We immediately notified the local health department.”
Persichelli explained that local health officials visited the facility at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. She added that the owners of Andover Subacute Care are required to report deaths daily, and to provide a backup plan for how to store dead bodies.
“We are not pleased,” Perischelli said.
Andover Subacute and Rehab owner Mutty Scheinbaum released a statement, “The owners, administrators and our heroic healthcare staff of nurses and nurse aides have been working relentlessly to contain the virus and safeguard our residents and staff. The health and safety of our residents and staff is our utmost priority and responsibility. Ownership and administration is working around the clock to ensure we are able to resolve the pandemic. To clarify previous news reports, there was a total of 15 bodies in our holding room on April 13th. 8 of them actually expired on April 13th and a total of 13 bodies were removed before midnight and occurred with the assistance of Andover police department.”