The New Jersey nursing home where at least 17 bodies were found earlier this week had a poor rating from the government and had numerous prior citations.
On Monday, police in Andover, acting on a tip, found the bodies of at least 17 people in a makeshift holding area meant to hold four bodies at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center, the New York Times reports.
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The paper reports there have been 68 recent deaths at the long-term care facility, which according to USA Today, is the largest long-term nursing home in the state with about 500 patients.
According to government data, Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center II — one of the buildings on the site — has a rating of one out of five stars, or “much below average.” According to the data, the center had 23 health complaints over the previous three years that resulted in a citation.
The other building on the site, Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I, has a rating of three of five stars, of “average,” with five health complaints over the previous three years resulting in a citation.
There are an additional 76 people in the Andover center who are currently infected with COVID-19, including 41 employees, one of which is an administrator, the Times reported.
Attorney General Will Investigate Nursing Homes
On Thursday, on the heels of the horrific discovery, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced his office will investigate nursing homes and long-term care facilities statewide.
The investigation will focus on facilities that have had a large number of coronavirus deaths and previous issues such as inadequate staffing, quality of care and health inspections.
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“Like the Governor and so many other New Jerseyans, I am deeply troubled by the high number of deaths at certain nursing homes and other long-term care facilities in the State, especially those with below-average track records for health inspections, staffing, and quality of care,” Grewal said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “We will follow the facts wherever they go.”
Grewal said his office would not comment further on the investigation “unless and until we bring an enforcement action or close the case.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy wrote on Facebook, “I am heartbroken by the tragic news that several individuals have lost their lives in a coronavirus outbreak at the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center I and II.”
Murphy added, “I am outraged that the bodies of the dead were allowed to pile up in a makeshift morgue at the facility.”
In an interview with USA Today, facility owner Chaim Sheinbaum said, “It’s under control. It’s a tragedy, it’s a pandemic.”
Sheinbaum blamed the high number of bodies in the holding area on the holiday weekend combined with more deaths that the facility was accustomed to having, which he said resulted in “a greater number of bodies in the facility’s morgue.”
Sheinbaum told USA Today that the room where the bodies were stored usually held four bodies but had the capacity to hold as many as 12 bodies.
Sheinbaum didn’t return a call from PEOPLE for comment.
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