A nursing home where 83 Covid residents died is still in operation under a new name.

A nursing home where 83 Covid residents died is still in operation under a new name.

The federal government fined the owners $221,115 for not being in “substantial compliance,” and the attorney general’s office began an investigation.

In December 2019, Sharon Farrell flew from Florida to visit her sibling Stephen at a New Jersey nursing home, where, she said, she found “disgusting” conditions. “I told the nurse, ‘I’m calling the state,’” she said. “I’m paying $9,000 per month, and I wouldn’t allow my dog to live like this. Farrell said that four months after the fact, as Covid-19 was spreading quickly, she over and again called the office to ask how her sibling was doing. At the point when she at long last contacted somebody, she said, she was told he was fine. Inside a couple of days, in any case, he was dead. It has been 19 months since the revelation of 17 bodies in a little morgue at the Andover Subacute II nursing home in Sussex County, New Jersey, in April 2020.

But the owners are still in business. They changed the names of Andover and its sister facility and installed new signs out front. As of Friday, there were 25 residents of Andover with Covid, according to state data.

And the owners are still being paid by Medicare and Medicaid, the taxpayer-funded programs that pay most costs for U.S. nursing home operators — even though one of the owners, Louis Schwartz, helped run a chain called Skyline Healthcare, which collapsed in 2019 amid accusations of neglect and financial mismanagement, which the chain denied.

“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. He said the pandemic exposed an industry already in crisis, with 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.”

Some family members of those who died at Andover say they are frustrated, and some are suing over the facility’s alleged lack of preparation to deal with Covid and for mingling the infected and the healthy.

Farrell joined a lawsuit with other families but said: “I couldn’t care less about the class action. I want these guys out of business.”

Before Covid
At its peak, Skyline Healthcare had more than 100 facilities and oversaw the care of more than 7,000 elderly residents. But from 2017 to 2019, the chain began a slow-motion collapse, and more than a dozen Skyline-operated nursing homes shut their doors, throwing residents, vendors, employees and state regulators into chaos. Many homes ran out of money. Others were shut down over neglect documented in government records. In one Arkansas nursing home regulators identified maggots in a resident’s catheter, according to an inspection. Fourteen homes were forced to close permanently, displacing more than 900 residents to new facilities, sometimes hours away.

Skyline’s main owner, Joseph Schwartz, and his son Louis did not return multiple messages and emails requesting comment in 2019. They have denied the allegations of neglect. The Schwartz family has not left the nursing home business. While Skyline is defunct, Joseph Schwartz is still listed as the owner or a co-owner of four facilities, according to federal nursing home ownership data.

Louis Schwartz and Chaim Scheinbaum have ownership stakes in at least seven nursing homes between them, including the facility once known as Andover Subacute II. In January 2020, New York health officials recommended against allowing Scheinbaum to take over a nursing home in upstate New York, citing an “ongoing investigation” and noting that they disapproved of his “character and competence,” according to a Health Department document. Scheinbaum did not respond when asked to comment about the recommendation.

A year before the Covid outbreak, a female Andover resident with dementia walked out of the facility through two broken doors and was found at 4:30 a.m. sitting in the snow with severe frostbite, according to a federal inspection. Terri Thompson, her daughter, sued the facility, alleging violations of the minimum standard of care. The lawsuit is pending, and the owners have denied the claims. Dante Maglioli said that in early 2020, his father, Joseph, complained about the quality of care at Andover. The family was talking about moving him to another facility.

As Covid began to spread, Maglioli said, he heard his sister and his father talking on the phone. His father was saying he was not sure Andover could cope if he came down with the deadly new disease. And then, Maglioli said, “my sister never talked to my dad again.” Maglioli’s father died April 9, 2020. Schwartz and Scheinbaum did not respond when asked to comment about the conditions at Andover before the pandemic.

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