By: Follow Local News Staff
CAMDEN, N.J. — Long-term care facilities have been ravaged statewide throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. To address the situation, Camden County put a plan in place to stem the tide of the virus and assist operators in 27 of our 56 facilities a little more than a month ago. While improvements have been made overall, five county facilities have continued to struggle and state intervention is needed.
Based on the findings of county inspections, Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli Jr. has submitted a request directly to Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli, in concert with his municipal partners where these facilities reside, asking for direct assistance from the nursing home regulatory body.
“As we watched this pandemic evolve it was immediately evident that many long-term care facilities were unprepared to face the challenge that was presented and to ensure the safety of their residents and staff,” Cappelli said. “Based on the reporting from our community we started taking on the task of inspecting these operations and we found a variety of issues including flawed infection control procedures, a severe shortage of PPE, and staffing shortages.”
In the request, Cappelli outlines five facilities that, as of May 5, have had a significant number of positive COVID-19 cases and, tragically, 75 deaths. Working with the elected leadership from Collingswood, Cherry Hill and Voorhees, the Freeholder Board will continue to dedicate resources and personnel to stopping the spread of the virus.
In Voorhees, both Genesis Voorhees Center and Lions Gate have been recommended for state Department of Health (DOH) monitors by the Freeholder Board.
“This is an appalling situation and is impacting all of us in our community. The loss of life is heartbreaking, and these facilities need the state’s focus and attention,” Voorhees Deputy Mayor Michelle Nocito said. “I’m looking forward to seeing a measurable change under a state monitor and I want to see lives saved inside both of our most affected facilities.”
At this time, long term care facilities account for approximately 26 percent of the county’s total positive cases and more than 75 percent of its total deaths from COVID-19. The numbers underscore the immense need for regulatory intervention into these organizations to protect residents who reside there.
In Cherry Hill, both Avista Healthcare and Premier Cadbury have been recommended for a state DOH monitors.
“We have been horrified by the loss of life in these facilities and keep the families in our thoughts and prayers,” Cherry Hill Mayor Susan Shin Angulo said. “I want to thank the county for stepping into the regulatory void and I’m looking forward to the state coming into these two Cherry Hill facilities and making a significant impact to save lives.”
In Collingswood, the United Methodist Communities at Collingswood has been recommended for a state DOH monitor.
“We appreciate the help from the State and County as the Borough and care providers work to control the spread of this virus,” Mayor Jim Maley said. “We need all hands-on deck.”