In April 2020, 17 bodies were discovered in a tiny morgue at the Andover Subacute II nursing home in Sussex County, which led to the facility being fined $221,115 by the federal government for not being in "substantial compliance," as well as an ensuing investigation by the attorney general's office.
However, the Andover facility and its sister facility have changed their names and installed new signs out front, according to NBC News.
The state of New Jersey reported that, as of Friday (November 19), 25 residents of Andover had tested positive for COVID-19.
Yet somehow the owners of the facilities are still being paid by Medicare and Medicaid, the taxpayer-funded programs that fund most U.S. nursing home operators, despite one owner, Louis Schwartz, having helped run a chain called Skyline Healthcare, which was accused of neglect and financial mismanagement leading to its collapse in 2019.
"The individuals that ran Skyline should not ever be in charge of a nursing home again, and yet here we are," said David Grabowski, a professor of health care policy at Harvard Medical School, via NBC News, adding that the pandemic exposed growing concern in the healthcare industry brought on by a lack of resources and regulation.
"Different names, same practices," Grabowski said. "We need to ensure that there aren’t these kind of back doors, that nursing homes aren’t able to simply put a new name on the building and continue to operate as is."
Sharon Farrell flew from Florida to visit her brother, Stephen, at the New Jersey nursing home in December 2019 and told NBC News that the facility was in "disgusting" conditions.
"I told the nurse, 'I am calling the state,'" Farrell said. "I’m paying $9,000 a month, and I wouldn’t let my dog live like this."
Farrell is among several other relatives of patients who joined a lawsuit against the facility.
"I couldn’t care less about the class action," Farrell said. "I want these guys out of business."