On Monday, April 13, 17 bodies were found in the insufficiently sized morgue of Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center in Sussex County, New Jersey. An anonymous tip led police to the nursing home, where they found the troubling amount of bodies crammed into the morgue intended for only four bodies. The anonymous source also said that the bodies were first stored in a shed but were moved to the morgue.
68 people, residents and staff, have died in this facility. 26 of those who died tested positive for COVID-19, and 2 were staff members.
Governor Phil Murphey stated in a news conference on April 16, “I am also outraged that bodies of the dead were allowed to pile up in a makeshift morgue at the facility.”
The nursing home claimed the body count in the morgue had never surpassed 15, but other sources say that 2 of the 17 bodies were removed prior to police inspecting the facility. According to a statement from the facility, the bodies piled up because of the holiday weekend hours and more than average deaths caused a backup. This is not the only nursing home to mishandle their facility during the pandemic, and it surely won’t be the last.
Nearby in Elizabeth, NJ, three long-term care facilities reported they had a combined total of 65 deaths, but that number could be inaccurate because at least one of those facilities has been having a problem with under-reporting their cases. The misinformation and lack of transparency regarding the amount of infected and dead in nursing homes has been an issue during the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the pressure on federal health officials to track nursing home outbreaks, they have failed to release a count.
The Associated Press (AP) instead has taken the task upon themselves to keep a count based on information from state health departments and media reports, and their count was at 4,817 nursing home deaths across the country as of April 15. New York accounts for over half of those nursing home deaths.
At Thomas Law Offices, we know you’re concerned for all of your loved ones in this pandemic, but especially your loved ones who are in long-term care facilities. Restricted visitation makes it hard for you to stay up to date on their health and well-being, but there are ways you can handle those restrictions. And if you feel your loved one is being mistreated in a nursing home during this time, you can still reach out to our office and discuss your legal options.