ANDOVER TOWNSHIP, NJ (Sussex County) — U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5) Monday announced action to support Andover Township following the necessary closure of the badly mismanaged and deadly Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation II/Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center facility.
Gottheimer is calling on the State of New Jersey to take immediate action to provide economic relief to the Township if the owners default on their local taxes.
Gottheimer has been working with the Governor’s office, NJ Senator Steve Oroho, NJ Assemblymen Hal Wirths and Parker Space, Andover Township Mayor Thomas Walsh, Jr., and local leaders since before the long-term care facility was forced to close.
Andover Subacute contributed $1.4 million in property taxes annually to the community to help pay for everything from police to roads to local schools. Now, the owners have stopped paying local taxes, Gottheimer said.
Gottheimer sent a letter to Governor Phil Murphy requesting that the State of New Jersey utilize emergency, stabilizing economic assistance to help offset lost revenue for Andover Township, or a portion of its $6 billion emergency dollars from the American Rescue Plan. These federal dollars would be necessary if for some unexpected reason the State’s emergency stabilizing resources are not available.
“Many of us, from the state’s Department of Health, to CMS, to my office and state and local officials, including State Senator Oroho and the Mayor, repeatedly sounded the alarm and pushed for accountability. Finally, the facility in Andover was rightly forced to close its doors. Thankfully, each and every resident living at the Andover Subacute nursing home has been transferred to other facilities,” Gottheimer said. “Now, the owners here have stopped paying the tax bills that they owe. First, the landowner here should cover the tax revenue they owe the town. They should pay their bills, no excuses. You can’t just stop paying your bills because you feel like it. In the meantime, and if the landlord doesn’t do the right thing, then we need to figure out another way to get urgent help to Andover Township.”
“As part of this transition for the community, I’m requesting — from the State — emergency, stabilizing economic assistance for Andover Township, which is losing its single-largest source of revenue from the nursing home’s closure. This is very common in cases like this — transitional assistance to help a community through an unexpected financial crisis,” Gottheimer said.
Gottheimer cited the State of New Jersey stepping in to support the Township of Nutley, which lost Hoffmann-La Roche, its largest ratepayer, in 2013. The state provided transitional assistance for years to help the Township get back on its feet.
When contacted about issues at the Andover facility in early April 2020, Gottheimer continued to request coordination, action, and resources from the State of New Jersey, FEMA, and the federal government to address COVID-19 outbreaks in long-term care facilities in North Jersey. Gottheimer was also in regular contact with NJ Department of Health (NJDOH) Commissioner Judith Persichilli and with the Governor’s office regarding the crisis at the Andover facility.
During the height of the 2020 crisis, a police inspection of the Andover Subacute facility found 17 bodies piled in a makeshift morgue.
Gottheimer asked the State and CMS in April 2020 to investigate the Andover facility. The CMS inspection report found that the Andover Subacute II facility was not in substantial compliance with federal requirements, imposed a Civil Money Penalty accruing a total of $220,235, and required the facility to submit a Plan of Correction (PoC) for the deficiencies cited by CMS.
In April 2020, Gottheimer also asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to deploy National Guard and Reserves to assist North Jersey long-term care facilities in need, and he requested that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) deploy U.S. Public Health Service front-line health care workers. Gottheimer also asked the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to fulfill the State of New Jersey’s request for additional assistance for all long-term care facilities in dire need throughout the state at the time.
In January 2022, Gottheimer asked the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to address conditions at Andover Subacute, as the facility experienced the worst COVID-19 omicron outbreak in New Jersey at the time. Gottheimer requested an update on the facility’s compliance with corrective actions that were supposed to be put in place following the May 2020 CMS inspection.
Finally, in May 2022, Gottheimer applauded the move by CMS to issue the Andover facility a notice of termination effective June 2022.