WOODBRIDGE, N.J. – The entire New Jersey nursing home population will be relocated to a similar state near the outbreak of coronavirus among residents and staff, CareOne and New Jersey Department of Health officials said Wednesday.
State health authorities requested a transplant to assess the status of the St. Joseph’s Elderly Care Home in Woodbridge, 20 miles south of Newark, where 24 of the 94 patients had a positive COVID-19. The virus also spread to caregivers, CareOne executives said, leaving St. Joseph’s Department seriously short-term.
In addition to the 24 confirmed cases, all 70 other St. Joseph residents are now expected to be positive, officials said.
CareOne and St. Joseph’s were not in a relationship before, but “immediately began working with state and local officials,” said CareOne director Lizzy Straus. “According to the state, moving all patients to another state was in the interests of both COVID-19 positive residents and those not affected by the virus.”
New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli said Wednesday: “Unfortunately, we followed the organization on Friday night and worked with sisters who own (the facility) and take care of the residents to make the transition.
“The sisters told us on Friday that 12 of their employees were at home and they felt badly suffering from respiratory symptoms,” Persichilli told a news conference. “The sisters worked around the clock to take care of nearly 90 residents. I don’t know how many of them were. But when they called us, I can tell you it was an emergency.”
Persichill said his department was reaching out to other long-term care in the area to seek short-term help for sisters at St. Joseph’s.
“I can tell you that the cooperation was exceptional,” he said. “They were able to get the nurses and help to go in at the weekend.”
CareOne, which operates 32 acute care and assisted living services in New Jersey, came up with a plan to take St. Joseph patients to a COVID-19 vacancy in Whippany, New Jersey.
“As we looked at room availability on our premises, we were able to temporarily move our population from CareOne to Hanover, Whippany’s nearby CareOne facilities, to provide care for St. Joseph patients,” Straus said.
In order to receive incoming patients, 61 Whippany residents had to move to CareOne facilities elsewhere. All those moved were all moved from Tuesday to night.
COVID-19 positive patients are expected to be distinguished from positive patients in Whippany.
At another press conference, Governor Phil Murphy gave a “shout out” to public-private partnerships to ease the burden on sisters at St. Joseph’s Church.
“This started to develop on Friday night and it was a fight all weekend,” he said. “We are discussing it privately yesterday. It is now boiling clearly and in certain spaces – as usual in New Jersey. In case of doubt, we gather together and I would like to give CareOne a shout out if it is with you.”
Follow reporter William Westhoven on Twitter: @wwesthoven