State agency reports improvements will be made at Manalapan Manor

MANALAPAN – A representative of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) has informed Manalapan officials that improvements are being made at the Manalapan Manor residential health care facility on Route 33.

Manalapan Manor is a state-licensed facility on Route 33 that is home to about 50 men and women. According to municipal officials, the facility has been the scene of many calls for police assistance this year.

In addition, residents of the community at large have reported problematic interactions with residents of Manalapan Manor at businesses on nearby Woodward Road.

In early November, Mayor Susan Cohen wrote to Gov. Phil Murphy and asked that Manalapan Manor be shut down and its residents relocated.

In a Nov. 15 response, Edward M. Smith, director of the Division of Codes and Standards in the DCA, said that upon receipt of Cohen’s letter, “we immediately dispatched a DCA inspector to (Manalapan Manor) on Nov. 7, 2019 for an unannounced inspection.

“At the time of this inspection, it was determined Manalapan Manor was in compliance with the standards for licensure of residential health care facilities. Providing oversight for these facilities is an ongoing process which requires constant monitoring.

“Since January 2018, 36 site inspections and an equal number of re-inspections have
been conducted at this facility and all cited deficiencies were abated. After seeing the most recent photos you (Cohen) sent and assuming they were recently taken, we dispatched yet another inspector on Nov. 14 to conduct another unannounced site visit. It was noted that some new violations were found since the Nov. 7 inspection.

“We will be re-inspecting … to ensure the immediate violations are abated. We understand the problems the community is dealing with and we are doing the best we can considering the challenges the residents of (such facilities) face. The department exercises the statute to the fullest extent of the law to provide oversight and enforcement.”

Smith reiterated what Manalapan officials have said; that Manalapan Manor is an “open” facility and the licensee may not restrict residents’ access to the community (i.e., walking to local businesses).

“While this facility has been characterized as a ‘mental health’ or ‘senior’ facility, it is not.
It is a boarding home that houses low-income individuals with physical and mental illnesses. It is unrealistic to expect that any facility of this class would be fully compliant for any length of the time considering the population it is serving.

“We have been notified by the operator that they are in the process of relocating some of
the residents while they focus on rehabilitating the facility. We will monitor the relocation process to ensure the residents’ rights are not violated as they move to a new licensed facility,” Smith wrote.

In a Nov. 18 response to Smith, Cohen said the administrator of Manalapan Manor “advised (the township) that some residents have already been moved, but would not tell us how many or how many more will be relocated. He would not say when the renovations would begin. Nor did he explain where, inside the facility, the residents would be relocated. … We would like more details about what is going on.”

As of Nov. 20, Cohen said she was waiting for a response as to where the residents of Manalapan Manor were moved, how many were moved, and how the people who were not moved will be expected to live in even closer quarters.

“We want to make sure the residents who were moved are in a safe place and that those left will be safe. We also are looking for a date these ‘renovations’ will start and be completed. We want to know what the owner feels he will accomplish with these renovations. Cleanliness is extremely important, but properly feeding the residents is another major concern,” Cohen said.

It has been reported that food is not available for Manalapan Manor residents after 4:30 p.m. and Cohen said that is one reason the residents are visiting nearby stories and panhandling.

“We are also concerned about the distribution of medication to the Manalapan Manor residents. There is no supervision in the building qualified to oversee this,” the mayor said.

State assemblymen Robert Clifton and Ronald Dancer (both R-Monmouth, Ocean, Burlington, Middlesex) have introduced a bill, A-5795, regarding residential health care facilities.

According to a synopsis of the legislation, “This bill requires that the rules and regulations adopted for residential health care facilities include a requirement that all residential buildings at the facility have at least two staff members on duty at all times to provide resident supervision, (and the) supervision may be a primary or secondary duty of the staff members.

“The rules and regulations are to additionally require that all residential health care facilities develop, maintain and enforce a comprehensive plan concerning residents who leave the premises of the facility, including protocols for identifying and immediately reporting incidents in which a resident is missing for 24 hours,” according to the synopsis.

Cohen said the bill has been referred to the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee. She encouraged all residents of Manalapan to contact Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) at AsmCoughlin@njleg.org to get the bill to a vote.

“This should be a bipartisan concern and voted in the affirmative,” the mayor said.