A Superior Court Judge late last week signed an order placing Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center in receivership.
The court appointed Allen Wilen, a partner at the EisnerAmper, as temporary receiver recommended by the state’s Departments of Health and Human Services. EisnerAmper is an accounting, tax, and business advisory firm nationally known for its expertise in healthcare and restructuring.
The receiver will control the facility’s finances and ensure that the operations of the facility continue uninterrupted during this transition period. Atlantic Health System, which was selected as monitor in March, will work with the receiver to manage daily operations of the nursing home.
Helping Woodland Residents
“The judge’s decision recognizes the unprecedented gravity of this situation,” Human Services Commissioner Sarah Adelman said. “We look forward to working with the receiver to ensure the best possible care for Woodland residents.”
The move comes after state and federal officials have made moves due to worries about the safety of residents of the facility in Sussex County. The move came three days after Gov. Phil Murphy announced a plan to install a receiver at the beleaguered facility May 24, which hosts the lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates among residents and staff in all of Sussex County and recently relied on the National Guard to address staffing issues.
Federal Funding Cutoff
“It has become crystal clear that the people running this nursing home refuse to take responsibility for the people in their care,” said Murphy. “New Jersey will not tolerate long-term care facility operators who cannot provide the care our most vulnerable residents need and deserve.”
The facility garnered the spotlight in the Spring 2020 when a police inspection of the then named Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II facility was found to have 17 bodies piled in a makeshift morgue.
A subsequent inspection of the facility by federal officials found the Andover facility was not in substantial compliance with federal requirements, imposed a Civil Money Penalty of $220,235, and required the facility to submit a Plan of Correction for the deficiencies cited by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in May 2020.
All of which led to federal regulators on May 26 unexpectedly moving to stop the Andover nursing from receiving Medicare and Medicaid funding. The CMS said repeated surveys documented the Sussex County facility’s failure to comply with several federal requirements, including numerous non-compliance deficiencies that caused or were likely to cause “serious injury, harm, impairment, or death to residents.” Citing surveys from January through May, CMS said Woodland’s “multiple serious infection control deficiencies” had resulted in 30 resident deaths since October 2021 due to COVID-19.
The order, which can be appealed, is effective June 25 — months earlier than the agency had threatened in March.It is unknown if the takeover by the state will result in CMS reversing their decision. But for state officials, their immediate concern is for the New Jerseyans that call Woodland home.
“Ensuring the health, safety and dignity of the residents of this nursing home is the Department’s highest priority,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “The department appreciates the dedication and commitment of Woodland employees during this transition period.”
Ensuring Employee Pay
The state selected Atlantic Health System as monitor of Woodland in March after citing the facility for significant health and safety violations. Despite guidance from the monitor and oversight from the state and federal CMS, the facility’s operators have failed to address and maintain adequate staffing levels and a safe environment of care. Since its appointment as monitor, Atlantic Health System has been conducting an onsite assessment of business practices, operations and infrastructure.
“The health and well-being of our community is the core purpose of our team. We will continue to do all we can through our steadfast partnership with the State to provide care and support for the residents and caregivers of Woodland,” said Brian Gragnolati, President & CEO, Atlantic Health System.
Willen added that he will “ensure that employee paychecks are processed and staff retention policies and bonuses are implemented and will work with the state and other long-term care facilities to facilitate job placement for qualified individuals.”