Should the county be in the nursing home business?

In order to take some of the focus away from the sensationalism that has clouded this website in recent weeks, I am working on an investigative series centering around the county owned and maintained Cumberland Manor. I have received tips from a number of concerned citizens regarding abuses that were known and covered-up by the administration serving under Lou Magazzu’s tenure.

First, there is currently a move insisting on the privatization of the Manor. The manor has cost taxpayers in the millions annually – ostensibly due to poor management and fiscal oversight. Some freeholders are pushing to privatize, claiming the private sector can do the job better. I am not convinced.

In the past year, assisted living facilities in New Jersey were subject to a probe regarding claims that they bilked their patients out of their life savings, and then kicked them out once the private funds were depleted and the patients were forced to go on Medicaid. Apparently the patients were told, and had contracts promising care for the rest of their lives. However, hundreds, and possibly more patients were evicted once their private funds were depleted, and they were forced out.

The facilities involved were in fact found guilty. Instead of honoring the contractual agreements, they closed the facilities in question. However, they were still free to operate other facilities in the state. This preying on the elderly is one strike against privatization.

Also, at least half of the private nursing homes in the state received failing grades and the lowest possible ratings from the NJ Dept. of Health and Human Services. Strike two.

There have been allegations of medicaid fraud, resulting in convictions in other private care facilities. Strike three – and yer out!

Negligence and neglect seem to abound in nursing homes in the state. To be fair, this seems to be a national epidemic. Do you want employees with criminal records caring for your loved ones? Strike four?

This consistency of neglect, and of putting profits ahead of patient care would seem to argue in favor of State or Government run facilities. After all, if the government is in charge, everything will be on the up and up, right? Due to some recent information, I am not convinced.

I filed three OPRA requests today with the County of Cumberland, NJ. Two previous requests by an associate were not fulfilled within the legally mandated time-frame. One was answered a day late – no big deal. The other – asking for records of county issued equipment to Lou Magazzu – has still not been fulfilled – two weeks late. In this I smell cover-up;  at the bare minimum it is gross negligence.

But let me ask you a question. If your loved one was cared for in the Manor, and an employee was accessing their private patient records in order to personally profit, would you be upset? If an employee of the manor had themselves written into the will of your parent weeks before your parent passed, would this be cause for consternation?

I still have plenty of ducks to put in a row before I begin naming names.  And who knows, maybe these leads will end up in  a dark alley. Maybe they are merely a figment of some imaginative peoples’ imaginations. Maybe they are totally unfounded. Whatever my investigation turns up, however, I promise to publish on this website.

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6 Responses to Should the county be in the nursing home business?

  1. Gilgamesh says:

    I overheard a maintenance guy talking about a persistent mold problem in some part of the Manor. I couldn’t hear where, but that can’t be good for a grandmom. Perhaps you should widen the probe a bit?

  2. We should call you the roaming blood hound gettem Carl. I wonder if they will blame the Rs if you find something.

  3. WuLi says:

    I heard a rumor that the maintenance crew regularly performed work on the houses of certain employees, on county time and dime, of course.

  4. James says:

    I love when people repeat ” I heard…I was told”. Know the facts not rumors as we all know how stories grow from person to person.

  5. WuLi says:

    James – that is why I prefaced the statement that it was a “rumor”. My source, however, is reliable, and I throw this stuff out there in the hopes that somebody will step forward.

  6. Gilgamesh says:

    OK, I know about problems at the Manor; as well as elsewhere. But, forgive me if I am fearful of reprisals. I know, I know no one would ever harm another soul in this county if they spoke the truth.

    I would LOVE to elaborate on all I know, but I like collecting a pay check and not unemployment. Call me crazy.

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