Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II “is working with the New Jersey Department of Health and looks forward to assisting with any review by the state of recent events,” according to the facility’s legal counsel.


In a statement delivered Friday, following questions dating to April 20 from The New Jersey Herald, Christopher Porrino of Lowenstein Sandler LLP, said, “We remain confident that such review will confirm that the facility has been addressing the unprecedented challenges from this pandemic appropriately.”


Additionally, Alliance Healthcare’s owner and operator Chaim “Mutty” Scheinbaum, also on Friday said the pandemic has hit healthcare facilities and its professionals the hardest nationwide.


“With one of the largest nursing home populations in the state, Andover Subacute II is on the front lines of this crisis, cooperating with public health officials to prioritize patient safety,” Scheinbaum said.


After previously commenting to media about issues at Andover Subacute, Scheinbaum advised the New Jersey Herald on April 20, that further questions had been directed to Porrino.


Investigations were launched into the Andover Subacute facilities after local authorities learned that 13 bodies were piled up in a makeshift morgue within Andover Subacute II on April 13, a story first reported by the New Jersey Herald on April 15. Families with loved ones in the Andover Subacute facilities have since come forward with allegations of neglect, inadequate information about their loved ones and loss of contact with their family members in the midst of the pandemic. Some staff members have complained of lack of personal protective equipment while caring for COVID-positive residents, issues of understaffing and threats of termination for not working in COVID wings.


Reports from the state surveyors from the State Department of Health and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services from the inspections following the allegations, have not been released at the present time.


Scheinbaum said during the height of the pandemic in April, Andover Subacute II “experienced a tragic surge of patients becoming ill or passing, which troubles were compounded by large numbers of staff either self-quarantining or being unable to return to work.”


He asserted the facility took every possible step to handle that surge internally while “making dozens of outreaches to local, state, and federal agencies for help.” Among those, he named the National Guard, the federal Department of Health and Human Services, the New Jersey Department of Health, the New Jersey Department of Human Services, the Sussex County Department of Health, the Sussex County Office of Emergency Management, local police, the Sussex County Sheriff’s Office, EMS, local funeral homes, and local hospitals.


A spokesman for the facility said, the requests were for assistance dealing with the tragic surge of ill patients, staffing concerns due to employees calling out sick, and the urgent need for PPE.


“Andover is extremely grateful to those entities that offered what assistance they could, but the overall system was inundated and many entities were simply not in a position to help.”


According to a report on the New Jersey Department of Health website about COVID positive cases and attributed deaths in longterm care facilities, as of Friday at Subacute II, a 543-bed facility, there have been 176 COVID-19 positive cases and 52 deaths. In Subacute I, a 159-bed facility, there have been 43 cases and 11 deaths.


Scheinbaum said Subacute II continues to monitor and comply with Centers for Disease Control guidelines, with protocols in place to separate COVID-19 residents from the rest of the population in its facilities. In turn, he said the number of virus-related deaths has dropped by 90 percent of its height at the pandemic, key staff has returned from self-quarantine, new healthcare professionals have been retained and personal protective equipment or PPE inventory is in the process of being restored.


“We are so grateful for our brave health care professionals and staff for their unwavering dedication under these extraordinarily difficult circumstances,” Scheinbaum said. “They are giving absolutely everything of themselves to care for our residents, who we consider to be part of our family. Our top priority is the health and safety of our residents and staff, and we continue to be focused on providing the best possible care throughout this national emergency.”


“Andover Subacute II thanks those public servants who were able to offer what help they could during this unprecedented crisis,” Scheinbaum said.


Jennifer Jean Miller can also be reached by phone at: 973-383-1230; on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/JMillerNJH and on Twitter: www.twitter.com/JMillerNJH.