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New Jersey Nursing Homes Worst Offenders

New Jersey Nursing Homes Worst Offenders

Nursing homes and rehabilitation centers are some of the most regulated businesses in the country -- and for good reasons. The elderly and infirmed need special care and attention. Many are physically or mentally incapable of taking care of themselves. Their immune systems are weaker. 

Things we take for granted, like being able to swallow easily or get out of bed on our own, might be near impossible for them without assistance. Such things like cleanliness, proper training, proper attention, sterility, and more, are closely monitored by government inspectors. Any slip-up or mistake could cause undue harm or injury, or even cost a life.

Compared to some other states we have researched, New Jersey seems to have fewer terrible nursing homes. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. We’ve listed here some of the lowest-rated nursing homes as identified by Medicare. We’ve also pointed out some of their most egregious errors, though they’re guilty of many more according to government reports. We hope when searching for a nursing home you read the entire inspections available online and no expense from Medicare on their Nursing Home Compare site. 

New Grove Manor

Medicare.gov overall rating: N/A (too many deficiencies)

The New Grove Manor has been designated as a “Special Focus Facility”, which Medicare.gov says it has a “history of persistent poor quality of care” and is “subjected to more frequent inspections, escalating penalties, and potential termination for Medicare and Medicaid.” Each inspection has unearthed several violations, most of them falling short of causing actual harm. One violation was deemed to cause "immediate jeopardy" and affected many residents. It concerned the thickness of food.

Many elderly residents need their food to be a certain consistency: too thick and there's an immediate choking risk. Too thin and the resident runs the risk of aspiration, i.e., inhaling food or liquids into the lungs. This can lead to bacterial pneumonia, a major health threat to the elderly. 

Inspections showed staff at New Grove Manor were improperly trained on how to thicken liquids for certain residents or to properly prepare food like scrambled eggs to lessen the risk of aspiration or choking, respectively. One staff member even admitted to testing the proper thickness of a liquid by seeing if a resident choked on his coffee.

Needless to say, this widespread deficiency could have caused major issues and even death. It earned them a fine of $25,755 that time around.

Barclays Rehabilitation And Healthcare Center

Medicare.gov overall rating: 1 star (much below average)

Barclays Rehabilitation And Healthcare Center has fortunately not committed infractions that led to serious harm, injury, or death. But considering the deficiencies cited in Medicare.gov reports, this could be chalked up to pure luck. The facility has had its share of preventable falls, leading to bruising and other injuries. This injuries involved residents with severe cognitive disabilities being left alone or sleeping in beds without proper safeguards against falls. 

There was an instance of a urinary catheter being left in a resident for two months -- twice the approved time -- which could have led to a serious urinary tract infection. There are even multiple reports of various sterility guidelines being ignored or improperly followed, which could have caused outbreaks of preventable infections.

Fortunately, these infractions were caught by inspectors before any serious injuries occurred. But due to carelessness, lack of record-keeping, and poor communication among staff, Barclays Rehabilitation And Healthcare Center received one star in its overall rating.

Our Lady's Center For Rehabilitation & HC

Medicare.gov overall rating: 1 star (much below average)

Our Lady's Center For Rehabilitation & HC also hasn’t had any major injuries or deaths in recent years, but still has the dubious honor of having nearly triple the amount of health deficiencies in 2017 and 2018. That included pest control problems, improper storage of food, not following infection control guidelines, and more.

An egregious medication mistake occurred in 2017 when a newly admitted hospice resident was nearly given the incorrect dosage of a narcotic. The hospice nurse had written 5 ml of a 20 mg/ml solution of the drug, instead of 5 mg, or just 0.25 ml. That means the resident would have received over 100 mg of the mediation -- off by a factor of 20 times! 

Although staff caught the dosage error before a potentially lethal dose was given, it turns out the actual prescription had been discontinued by the doctor. In the end, the resident did receive more medication than she required, but thankfully not a lethal dose.

South Jersey Extended Care

Medicare.gov overall rating: 1 star (much below average)

Yet another facility to receive just one star in its overall rating from the government. South Jersey Extended Care has had numerous infractions over the past few years, including not storing food properly, not reporting injuries to the state inspectors, not properly assessing residents regularly, and not taking proper care when administering medications, among many others.

South Jersey Extended Care seems to have a widespread problem giving the proper types and amounts of medications to residents. In January of 2017, even while being watched by government inspectors, staff were counted as having a 28% error rate while providing medication to residents -- staggeringly far above the 5% limit for such errors. 

Exactly two years later -- again, under the eyes of government inspectors -- staff were counted as having an unacceptable error rate while distributing medications. A-K scale) because so many staff were viewed screwing up medication.

Lakeview Rehabilitation And Care Center

Medicare.gov overall rating: 1 star (much below average)

Lakeview Rehabilitation And Care Center has fewer deficiencies compared to other facilities on this list, but it had one very serious error that continued for a long time back in 2017. A resident with allergies to opiates and benzodiazepines was given both of those two drugs not once, but over two months. 

“There was a system breakdown in the consultant pharmacist, the pharmacy and staff communication,” the government inspector notes before detailing multiple miscommunications, physician errors, sloppy record-keeping, and many other serious failings. 

Due to this screwup, the resident subject to undue pain, lethargy, and sometimes extreme emotional reactions where she had to be restrained. At one point, the director of nursing thought the resident wouldn’t “make it through the night” after a particularly bad spell.

Had the pharmacists, physicians, and nursing staff not been so careless, this resident’s well-being could have been maintained, and so much suffering avoided.

Westfield Center

Medicare.gov overall rating: 1 star (much below average)

Westfield Center has had the “usual” deficiencies you see in some of the worst nursing homes: high medication error rates, not following infection control guidelines, etc. But there was one serious incident in September 2019 that caused a resident to sustain serious injuries that required hospitalization.

That resident had cognitive issues that caused him/her to be combative with staff at times. The resident also required full assistance to get out of bed, including two staff members and a specific type of divided-leg sling, sized medium. But on this day, two staff members had to move the resident and decided to use a completely inappropriate extra-large full-body sling. 

The resident, not understanding what was happening, got agitated and started rocking back and forth, just as the staff members had lifted him/her from the bed. The sling being too large, the resident slipped from it and landed face-first on the floor. This, of course, caused serious injuries, including cuts on the nose and face, and a broken nose.

Wanaque Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation

Medicare overall rating: 2 star (below average)

With so many one star (or worse) nursing homes on the risk, we have added Wanaque Center for Nursing & Rehabilitation even though at the time of publication, Medicare has given the facility an overall 2 star “below average” rating. 

11 kids died at the facility in 2018, deaths that were preventable. According to government records, the Wanaque Center was notified of an adenovirus virus at the facility. A healthy adult might be able to fight off such a virus but kids and adults with weakened immune systems – the folks we often find in nursing homes – are at a severe disadvantage. (Wanaque Center is one of a few skilled nursing facilities with a dedicated 90 bed pediatric ventilator unit for extremely ill kids unable to breathe on their own.)

Investigations originally blamed poor hygiene. A subsequent investigation revealed that the facility wasn’t prepared to deal with such an outbreak and lost crucial time in taking action.

The pediatric medical director of the facility seemingly didn’t even know how many kids were infected. According to northjersey.com, “he was barely aware of the burgeoning crisis until it was well underway, ‘I knew we had a problem after the fourth death.’” Seven more kids would die before the facility got the outbreak under control. 

Thirty three kids at the facility became infected. 11 died. We believe most of those deaths were preventable.

After the deaths, the administrator admitted that the pediatric medical director was pretty much a phantom. According to government investigators, the facility’s administrator stated, “He does not attend the QAPI [quality assurance and performance improvement] meetings. I have been here four years and have never received a monthly report from him. We have not had formal meetings to discuss issues. I have never asked him to review or approve a resident care policy and he has not been involved in the facility's infection control surveillance.”

As Americans tonight are worried about the coronavirus outbreak, we wonder how many facilities could properly handle such an outbreak in a nursing home. 

Nothing is worse than the tragic deaths of all those kids. There was more bad news for Wanaque Center, however.

That same year inspectors found 2 out of 51 patients sampled had preventable pressure ulcers (bedsores). Regular readers of this site know that we believe bedsores are virtually 100% preventable. There is no excuse for a patient to suffer from a painful pressure ulcer. And if those wounds reach stage 3 or 4 they can lead to sepsis and become fatal.

We believe the nursing home’s staff was as clueless as the pediatric medical director. On the adult side of the facility, the staff’s response to the bedsore finding was equally shocking.

As to one of the patients suffering from a bedsore, the Director of Nursing told an investigator, “I was not aware of the pressure sore. We haven't had our clinical meetings this week and I haven't talked to the unit manager. She has no history of pressure sores that I know of and she has been here for many years.” 

Another staff member had a similar response, “Pressure sore? Where? I didn’t know.”

The second patient died but apparently not because of a bed sore. Thankfully, it appears that the patient was not suffering any pain.

New Jersey Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers

No matter their age or mental ability, nursing home residents are human beings with all the rights that come with that. Bed sores, falls, medication mishaps -- all of these things are easily prevented with good policies, proper training, and staff who care about following the rules. Yet as we can see here, for many nursing facilities, these basic requirements are hard to follow, resulting in severe injuries and even death. If something like this happens to you or your loved one, please give us a call.

Are You the Victim Of Nursing Home Neglect?

We and our nationwide network represent residents of nursing homes, assisted living facilities and hospices. We also accept cases from families of those residents as well as homebound patients who were neglected or abused by a homecare service. Our mission is simple, we protect our older and disabled clients.

To learn more, visit our nursing home abuse information page. Ready to see if you have a case? Contact us online, by email [hidden email] or by phone at 833.201.1555. Simply because you are in a nursing home doesn’t mean you must suffer poor care.

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