CMS Levies $220K Fine on NJ Nursing Home at Center of COVID-19 Media Focus

The federal government this week publicly released the results of an inspection at a New Jersey nursing home that has made national headlines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, handing down a $220,000 fine.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) found Andover Subacute and Rehab II in violation of infection prevention and control regulations, issuing a civil monetary penalty (CMP) of $14,565 per day for 15 days of an “immediate jeopardy” citation.

The New York Times — which initially reported on conditions at the facility after receiving an anonymous tip about an over-full morgue — first revealed the results of the survey, conducted April 21, this week.

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Adding in a $110-per-day CMP until the problems are rectified, the facility — located in rural Andover, N.J. — collected fines of $220,235 as of May 6, the date CMS’s Northeast Division of Survey & Certification notified the building’s administrator of the inspection results.

SNN obtained a copy of the letter as well as the associated inspection report.

Andover has until May 16 to submit a plan of correction for the deficiencies found in CMS’s inspection; CMS will terminate the building’s license on October 21 if surveyors determine that the plan has not been implemented. The property also faces a suspension of payments for new admissions if CMS deems that it has not returned to compliance by July 21.

CMS inspected a sister facility on the same campus, Andover Subacute and Rehab I, and found no violations, according to a separate letter and report.

Chaim “Mutty” Scheinbaum, CEO of Andover operator Alliance Healthcare, said deaths at the facility have decreased by 90% since the height of the surge, noting that a new consulting team has come to the property to support its existing workforce.

“CMS noted areas of improvement for Andover Subacute II, but determined that the facility’s remediation plan was acceptable as fatalities continue to drop at the facility,” Scheinbaum said in a statement provided to SNN. “We look forward to continuing our cooperative relationship with CMS and the New Jersey Department of Health as we, and nursing home patients and staff across the country, continue to battle this deadly virus.”

The CEO also emphasized that the facility sought help from outside sources during the worst of the crisis.

“We took every possible step to handle this surge internally while simultaneously making dozens of outreaches to local, state, and federal agencies for help,” Scheinbaum said in the statement. “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.”

CMS in early March announced a sweeping plan to reorient its vast nursing home inspection apparatus around infection control, suspending all non-emergency surveys and vowing to focus inspections at properties with COVID-19 outbreaks and other infection control issues.

The agency in early April fined Life Care Center of Kirkland — a suburban Seattle property that was the site of the first major COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. — $611,000 amid the initial wave of publicity surrounding coronavirus’s impact on nursing homes.

CMS also used the Kirkland example to roll out stricter infection-control inspection guidelines in late March.

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