OCEAN COUNTY, NJ – Ocean County attributes 58 percent of its COVID-19 related deaths to long term care facilities. In Brick Township alone, 97 of the 108 fatalities were residents of one of the six LTCs within the municipality. Additionally, a Complete Care at Shorrock staff member also died because of coronavirus-related complications.
In April, Ocean County LTC facility residents and staff members accounted for 37 percent of COVID-19 deaths. Notably, the state has removed acute care facilities from the LTC reports. This includes Health South Rehab (Encompass Health and Rehab) in Toms River. As of April 25, they had already reported three deaths related to the deadly virus.
Health South’s website describes the facility’s services as providing inpatient rehabilitation for stroke, hip fracture, cardiac conditions, and other complex neurological and orthopedic conditions.
“Post-acute care facilities are not long-term care facilities per how defined by the state and were removed from the list,” explained Donna Leusner, Director of Communications for the New Jersey Department of Health.
“Following a hospitalization for injury or illness, many patients require continued medical care, either at home or in a specialized facility,” continued Leusner. “Post-acute care refers to a range of medical care services that support the individual's continued recovery from illness or management of a chronic illness or disability.”
Meanwhile, nursing home administrators and staff hold the state responsible for the high incidence of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths within their facilities. They point to a directive from Health Commissioner Judith M. Persichilli dated March 31. In part, the memo states:
No patient/resident shall be denied re-admission or admission to the post-acute care setting solely based on a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19. Persons under investigation for COVID-19 who have undergone testing in the hospital shall not be discharged until results are available. Post-acute care facilities are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized patient/resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission.
According to the New Jersey Department of Health, that letter was superseded by an order dated April 13 in response to communications received from various entities throughout the state.
“More than 120 long-term care facilities responded to the NJ Department of Health that they are unable to separate COVID patients, have staffing issues or are unable to maintain appropriate infection control practices,” Leusner shared. “All long-term care facilities that are not able to separate residents who have symptoms or have tested positive from those without symptoms are prohibited from accepting admissions.”
As of yesterday, Bartley Healthcare in Jackson led the county in reporting the most deaths with 42 fatalities. Bartley reported 137 confirmed coronavirus cases for residents, with an additional 34 staff members testing positive for a total of 171. At the end of April, the facility had reported 105 total cases and 13 COVID-related deaths.
Bartley’s website describes them as a 182-bed skilled nursing facility, with a 48-bed post-acute and rehabilitation unit. Their services also include a secured bed unit for memory care patients. Assisted living and palliative care are also part of the facility.
In Barnegat, the Barnegat Rehabilitation & Nursing Center’s numbers have only changed by one since the April report. Nine residents have tested positive, together with eleven staff members. Two residents have died. A current list of all Ocean County long term care facilities and their resident statistics appears below:
Statewide, long term facilities have reported the deaths of 5721 residents and 104 staff members. In Ocean County, Leisure Chateau Care and Rehabilitation Center reported the loss of one staff member, bringing the countywide total to two.