A Deptford nursing home scrutinized by health officials for persistent issues has lost its federal agreement providing for Medicare and Medicaid payments, making its closing likely.
All residents at the 139-bed Gloucester Manor Health Care Center receiving payments under the programs must leave the facility by Aug. 1, according to a letter sent to families late last week by the center's administrator.
The Salina Road home has been on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' "Special Focus Facility" list for three years. The list, intended to track and curb facilities' ongoing deficiencies, notes that Gloucester Manor's conditions "have not improved" since it was added to the directory.
There are 54 special facilities listed nationally, a CMS spokesman said Tuesday. Since the oversight program began in 2005, 91 have had their agreements terminated.
New Jersey has nearly 370 nursing homes and more than 180 assisted living residences, according to a state Department of Health spokeswoman. Gloucester Manor, one of the longest to be monitored by CMS, is the only facility from New Jersey on the watch list.
The Deptford facility, which employs about 130 people, received notice late last month from CMS stating that payments would end.
At a review in September, a resident told a surveyor that an incontinence brief was too small and leaked - an issue reportedly noted by staff days earlier but not remedied. The resident was described as "depressed."
Other patients complained of slow call responses. One resident moved to a different facility, partly, according to the report, because personal furniture was removed from rooms, so that the facility failed to "maintain an environment that humanized and individualized each resident."
"It was the basic rights residents should have," said Saul Gruber, a Mount Laurel lawyer who specializes in nursing home and assisted living facility issues, and has been monitoring Gloucester Manor's status. "A lot of people forget, [for] the residents, this is their home."
Requests for comment from the nursing home's parent company, Geri Care, were not returned Monday or Tuesday. The facility's administrator, Anita Geis, also did not return multiple calls. A receptionist at the site Tuesday said Geis was not available.
The nursing home's principal officers listed on state records, Eric Paneth and Marvin Beinhorn, could not be reached. The two are listed as officers for six other facilities in the state.
In the letter to families, Geis wrote that "we have worked very, very hard . . . in the last six months to improve." She noted efforts to add "more qualified staff in all departments" as well as to improve food service. The site also underwent major physical renovations, celebrating a grand "reopening" in September.
Advocates of long-term care residents said relocating patients always raises concerns.
"It becomes their home; they develop relationships with other residents and staff members," said James McCracken, state ombudsman for the institutionalized elderly.
His office has a volunteer advocate at the facility who will assist in the transition. "This could affect someone's physical or psychological well-being," McCracken said.
A state Department of Health spokeswoman said the nursing home is responsible for facilitating patients' relocation and said a "closure plan" was under review.
CMS expects that after two years on the watch list, nursing homes will either improve and "graduate" from the program; have funding terminated; or be granted an extension to improve because of "promising progress," according to the agency.
Barbara Flowers, 67, of West Deptford, wept when reached by phone late Monday afternoon, after opening the letter and realizing she would have to move her mother, who suffers from dementia.
"How do you tell someone with dementia they have to move?" she asked.
Flowers' mother, Helen Wyckoff, 97, has lived in the home for seven years. Flowers said she had not witnessed the type of negligence described in reports.
"It's just perplexing," she said, wondering what effect the transition will have on her mother. "Everyone knows her name."