UPDATE: On Wednesday state health officials said patient numbers may be skewed because infections of facility employees sometimes were included in the totals.
More than half of Morris County’s COVID-19 deaths have stemmed from outbreaks in long-term care facilities, according to statistics released this week by the state Department of Health.
Frustrated by a lack of candor by some nursing homes and assisted living centers across New Jersey, state health officials have begun “naming and shaming” them.
Of 4,753 coronavirus-related deaths in the Garden State so far, 2,048 — 43 percent– have involved long-term care facilities, according to the state Department of Health.
In Morris County, nearly 54 percent of COVID-19 deaths — 156 out of 291 fatalities — have involved such facilities.
Thirty-six facilities across Morris have had outbreaks, with 865 cases confirmed. That’s nearly 20 percent of the 4,435 individuals who have tested positive in the county as of April 21, 2020.
In Greater Morristown:
- The Morristown Post Acute Rehabilitation and Nursing Center on Madison Avenue has had 15 deaths and 69 cases.
- The Morris View Healthcare Center in Morris Township is next, with 10 deaths and 40 confirmed cases.
- CareOne at Madison Avenue in Morristown has reported five deaths and 41 cases. The state lists a Cardinal Village Assisted Living (four deaths) in Morristown, but a web search could not find any such place in Morris County.
- Sunrise of Madison has nine cases and one death.
- Spring Hills of Morristown, three confirmed cases, and no fatalities.
The state Health Department is counting deaths of people who tested positive for COVID-19, deaths of people with a pending test, and deaths of those who had a respiratory illness but no test.
“There’s an assumption that there was a possibility that they had COVID, so they’re in that number,” Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli explained on Monday.
When residents of these facilities die in hospitals, the deaths are included in the facilities’ totals. These totals are based on numbers reported to the state by the facilities themselves.
Statewide, 432 long-term care facilities have at least one case of COVID-19. Some 11,527 of New Jersey’s 92,387 confirmed cases — about 12.5 percent — are at such places.
The worst outbreaks have been at the Paramus Veterans Memorial Home (39 deaths), and the Andover Subacute and Rehab Center in Sussex County (31 deaths) — where an anonymous tip about a body in a shed led authorities to a makeshift morgue.
According to the New York Times, at least 70 residents of the Andover center have died. That figure includes at least two nurses.
The state list does not count facility staff members infected or killed by the coronavirus.
UPDATE: On Wednesday, state officials said in some cases, facilities did include workers in their totals. More accurate figures were promised.
The Lincoln Park Care Center has been hardest hit in Morris County, with 29 coronavirus fatalities and 116 cases, according to state figures. Brighton Gardens of Florham Park has had 18 deaths and 54 cases, while the New Jersey Firemen’s Home in Boonton has had 11 deaths and 29 cases.
Releasing the list is an “important step towards bringing full transparency to patients, family members, and caregivers” in light of “continued obfuscation” by some nursing home operators, according to a union representing healthcare employees.
But there still are signs of “significant under-counting” of resident deaths by these facilities, according to Milly Silva, executive vice president of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.
The state is conducting inspections to determine whether facilities are complying with federal and state health guidelines.