By: Follow Local News Staff
CAMDEN, N.J. — The Camden County Health Department has begun randomly inspecting county long-term care facilities in place of the state of New Jersey in order to audit and inspect operations that have at least two confirmed cases of COVID-19, county officials said recently.
“At this juncture we have completed several inspections and the county Office of Emergency Management has also delivered more than 100,000 pieces of personal protective equipment to these facilities,” Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr. said in a prepared statement. “Everything from gowns, gloves, face masks, respirator and surgical masks to hand sanitizers have been dropped off.”
Last week, the county coordinated a conference call with most facility providers to have a candid conversation about their needs and procedures.
“Based on that call, the Freeholder Board offered the consolidated group co-op pricing for testing for residents and staff of these institutions,” Cappelli said. “In concert with that effort, county administration provided logistical guidance that has been successful in our own operations – the Jail, Juvenile Detention, 911 Dispatch Center – and access to our OEM for additional PPE orders.”
The county inspections have also identified staffing as another challenge the long-term care facilities are facing.
“The county will be investigating the opportunity to close the gap through our one-stop and workforce investment board,” Cappelli said.
In order to continue to support local long-term care facilities, the state Department of Health has commissioned Cooper University Healthcare to conduct testing of all patients and staff within South Jersey long term facilities.
“Our understanding is that at least three Camden County operations will be the first recipients of this testing regiment in order to identify challenges and provide more data for smart interventions,” Cappelli said.
As of the end of last week, the Camden County Medical Examiner has certified the loss of 59 residents in the county long-term care facilities since the start of the pandemic, and those facilities have a combined 352 cases among the residents and staff.
“What we are finding is many of these facilities across the board were severely underprepared for the outbreak and in many ways have suffered like so many other segments of the health care system,” Cappelli said. “It’s clear through our initial audits these facilities have a lack of testing, or no testing at all, a shortage of PPEs and staffing shortfalls across the board.”
The county will begin to provide daily updates on COVID-19 confirmed cases of staff and residents as well as deaths in long-term care facilities.
“The spread of this insidious virus is hard to stop in these high-density facilities,” Cappelli said, “but the county health team will go above and beyond to strengthen [long-term care facilities] and make them safer.”
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