Late Saturday there was a call for body bags and by Monday, the police received an anonymous tip about a body being stored in a shed outside one of the state’s largest nursing homes.
Once police arrived, the corpse had been removed from the shed, but they discovered 17 bodies piled inside the nursing home in a small morgue, intended to hold no more than four people.
The 17 were among 68 recent deaths linked to the long-term care facility, Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II, including two nurses, officials said. Of those who died, 26 people had tested positive for the virus.
For all the others, the cause of death is unknown.
Of the patients who remain at the homes, housed in two buildings, 76 have tested positive for the virus; 41 staff members, including an administrator, are sick with COVID-19, according to county health records shared Wednesday with a federal official.
This nursing home is certainly not alone. Coronavirus has killed thousands of residents at facilities struggling with staff shortages, increasingly sick patients and a lack of personal protective gear.
Andover Subacute has beds for 700 patients and records show it is the state’s largest licensed facility.
Even before the pandemic, the nursing home had struggled. Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II recently got a one-star rating of “much below average” from Medicare for staffing levels, inspections and patient care.
Reports indicate that the nursing home is overwhelmed by the death toll and has requested help from the governor’s office to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The state Department of Health sent two shipments containing 3,200 surgical masks, 1,400 N95 masks and 10,000 gloves to the nursing homes, according to a spokeswoman.
The nursing home has told local health officials that they are housing sick patients on separate wings or floors, Danielson said. And local residents have been gathering supplies to donate to the nursing home.
Most of the state’s nursing homes have reported at least one case of the coronavirus, which as of Wednesday had infected 6,815 patients of long-term care facilities in New Jersey. At least 45 of the 351 coronavirus-related deaths announced on Wednesday were residents of long-term care facilities.
Thirteen of the bodies discovered on Monday at the Andover facility were moved to a refrigerated truck outside a hospital in nearby Newton. A funeral home had made arrangements to pick up the other four.
The number of deaths in nursing homes from coronavirus is rising by the day. Due to the fact that older adults and those with underlying conditions are the most vulnerable to the virus, nursing homes and elderly assisted living facilities must follow infection control protocols as well as guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When a nursing home or assisted living facility breaches this duty during a pandemic, a nursing home neglect lawsuit could result.
A pandemic is no reason to let safety and security measures slide, especially among the elderly and those with compromised immune systems who are among the most at-risk populations for contracting the deadly coronavirus. As such, nursing homes across the United States have failed to take swift actions to protect their employees and residents during the COVID-19 outbreak and can be held liable for their negligence.
Due to nursing homes failing to contain certain areas, many sick and elderly residents quickly contracted coronavirus and spread the disease to others in their nursing homes. In the majority of these cases, the spread of the disease could have been prevented with common-sense guidelines, like social distancing, frequent hand washing, and the usage of face masks.
Sadly, many nursing home residents came in contact with COVID-19. Our Nursing Home Negligence and Abuse Attorneys at Whittel & Melton know this would not have happened if nursing homes had followed pandemic guidelines.
If a family member became ill or died while in the care of a nursing home due to coronavirus, we can help you understand your rights during this difficult time. We will answer all of your questions and put together a coronavirus injury or wrongful death lawsuit that could get you and your family members the financial compensation you deserve. During this pandemic, we are still working around the clock, so you can contact us anytime for a completely free consultation. We are practicing social distancing, so we are happy to speak with you via telephone or through free video conferencing services.