Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, is leading the charge to launch a federal investigation into alleged abuse at a New Jersey nursing home previously found to be improperly storing bodies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Woodland Behavioral and Nursing Center in Andover, New Jersey, has been plagued by allegations since 2017, when it was known as the Andover Subacute Rehabilitation Center. At that time, the facility paid nearly $900,000 to resolve allegations of “substandard or worthless nursing services to some patients," Sen. Grassley wrote Wednesday in a letter to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure.
"Then, in April 2020, police discovered seventeen bodies in a makeshift morgue at Woodland. This discovery made national headlines, which promoted CMS to investigate the facility shortly thereafter. CMS investigators found numerous health and safety violations," Grassley wrote. Most of the violations involved not following proper COVID-19 protocols.
"Unfortunately, little has changed," Grassley stated.
Woodland received a letter from CMS on Feb. 9, 2022 to "correct egregious and flagrant conditions at its nursing facility or else face expulsion from participating in Medicare or Medicaid" by March 3, 2022, Grassley wrote. He asked Brooks-LaSure for an update on Woodland's actions since CMS sent the letter.
Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Aging Committee Ranking Member Tim Scott, R-S.C., joined Grassley in a separate letter Wednesday to Attorney General Merrick Garland asking him to open a Department of Justice investigation into Woodland.
"Evidence suggests that Woodland has subjected its residents to egregious and flagrant conditions that have caused them to suffer serious physical and emotional harm," the Republicans wrote to Garland.
Severe staffing shortages as well as abuse and neglect of residents have been reported at the facility, they said.
"Due to the totality of these circumstances, the Federal government must intervene to prevent abuse and neglect of elderly patients at Woodland," the senators told Garland. They asked for the attorney general to expand an existing nursing home investigation in New Jersey to include Woodland.