Residents from St. Joseph’s Senior Home Assisted Living & Nursing Center in Woodbridge, NJ, were relocated to another long-term care community 30 miles away on Wednesday after several residents and caregivers tested positive for COVID-19 and several additional residents were “presumed positive.”
NBC New York reported that at least 24 of 94 residents had tested positive for the disease, with the balance of individuals presumed to have it. Some residents with the disease reportedly were hospitalized.
CareOne Executive Vice President Lizzy Straus confirmed Wednesday’s move to one of the organization’s facilities in a statement posted on CareOne’s website, saying it was done at the “request and direction of the New Jersey Department of Health and Governor Phil Murphy.”
“The order was issued after the health department declared a public health emergency and the Woodbridge facility an imminent public health hazard when a number of residents and caregivers tested positive,” she said.
Straus said CareOne temporarily has moved residents from its CareOne at Hanover Township facility in Whippany, NJ, to other CareOne facilities so the Whippany community could accommodate the residents from St. Joseph’s.
“CareOne plans on mobilizing our network of supportive services throughout the system to make this transition as comfortable and orderly as possible,” she said. “We are reviewing the residents’ records, which all existed on paper at St. Joseph’s, to get a better sense of the scope of positive cases and the condition of patients. Simultaneously, we continue to care for all residents across our multi-state network.”
At a Tuesday press conference, when the state first announced plans to move the residents, the governor said he wanted to “give a shoutout in particular to CareOne” and called Straus “terrific.”
The first case of COVID-19 at St. Joseph’s was reported in mid-March, according to media reports. One resident who had tested positive for COVID-19 died in a hospital on Saturday.
Tuesday, New Jersey Commissioner of Health Judith M. Persichilli, RN, BSN, MA, said that officials had been watching St. Joseph’s since Friday. At that time, 12 of the facility’s employees were home due to respiratory symptoms and “a number” of residents also had respiratory symptoms, she said. Three of those residents, Persichilli said, had been admitted to the hospital and had tested positive for COVID-19.
“Because of … the employees that did not come into work, the sisters were working around the clock to take care of almost 90 residents,” she said. Health officials contacted area long-term facilities, and “the collaboration was extraordinary,” Persichilli added. “They were able to get nurses and aides to go in over the weekend, but it was really the sisters that called us and said, ‘We don’t think we can continue this, with the employees that are ill, and if they’re in quarantine now for 15 days, and the ability to get the adequate staff to give the residents the care that they require and deserve. Would you help us find places for the residents to be placed?”
St. Joseph’s, Persichilli noted, “has cared for the most vulnerable population in Woodbridge and the surrounding areas for decades.” According to the organization’s website, the nonprofit facility has been operated by the Little Servant Sisters of the Immaculate Conception since 1981. The nursing home component, with a capacity for 51 residents, has 5 stars from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
St. Joseph’s had not responded to an email request for comment by the publication deadline, and nobody was answering the phone late Wednesday.