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Princeton Care Center nursing home unexpectedly closes

The nursing home had financial issues and been cited by the New Jersey Department of Health for alleged licensure violations

Princeton Care Center. PHOTO BY LEA KAHN/STAFF

The nursing home had financial issues and been cited by the New Jersey Department of Health for alleged licensure violations

The Princeton Care Center, which is the town’s only long-term care facility, closed its doors unexpectedly Sept. 1.

The 119-bed nursing home at 728 Bunn Drive closed for financial reasons and with only a few hours’ notice to its residents and their families, according to published reports on Princeton Patch.

The New Jersey Department of Health was aware that the Princeton Care Center had financial issues and that a sale of the nursing home was in the works, the published reports said.

However, the sale to another long-term care provider fell through Aug. 31, which triggered nursing home officials to make the decision to close the Princeton Care Center later in the day.

The Princeton Care Center was unable to pay its staff and could not continue to provide care for the residents, reports said. The nursing home put its emergency evacuation plan into effect immediately.

All long-term care facilities must have an emergency evacuation plan, officials said. Residents are relocated to other nursing homes that are designated in the plan.

In addition to financial issues, the Princeton Care Center had been cited by the New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) for alleged licensure violations in an Aug. 9 letter to nursing home administrator Ezra Bogner.

The alleged violations were uncovered by staff from the state agency’s Health Facility, Survey and Field Operations unit, who were on site at the nursing home from June 27 to July 13 for a complaint investigation, the letter said.

The investigation found 27 deficiencies that ranged from insufficient staffing to quality of life and quality of care issues.

Three of the deficiencies constituted substandard quality of care in the areas of “freedom from abuse, neglect and exploitation, quality of life and quality of care,” the letter said.

The nursing home did not have a written abuse policy and procedures in place to ensure allegations of potential abuse of residents were investigated and that staff reported all potential abuse.

Also, there was nothing in place to ensure that staff could identify a resident’s code status in an emergency situation and follow a doctor’s orders for code status. A code status indicates the type of resuscitation measures needed to keep a person alive in response to a cardiac issue or if he or she is not breathing.

Staffing shortages also were uncovered during the investigation. There is a minimum number of certified nursing assistants (CNA) required on a shift, based on the number of residents.

At various times during 2022 and 2023, the day shift was understaffed by one or two CNAs and on other days, it was understaffed by as many as half of the required number of CNAs, according to the Aug. 9 letter.

On Sept. 19, 2022, 10 CNAs were required for the day shift for 83 residents, but only nine were at work. On Oct. 14, 2022, only five CNAs reported for work when the requirement was 10 staffers for 82 residents.

On June 30 of this year, there were six CNAs for 80 residents on the day shift. On July 1, there were eight CNAs for 82 residents on the day shift. The minimum number of CNAs each day was 10.

“These violations pertain to the care of residents using the services at Princeton Care Center,” according to the Aug. 9 letter to Bogner.

The NJDOH limited the number of residents to 80 people as a result of the investigation. It allowed residents to return to the Princeton Care Center who had been hospitalized and released.

The state agency issued a “directed plan of correction” in its Aug. 9 letter. It required the nursing home to hire a full-time administrator consultant to correct alleged violations and to hire a registered nurse to serve as a consultant director of nursing, both to begin work by Aug. 18.

Mayor Mark Freda was upset by the nursing home’s closure, although it does not fall under the town’s jurisdiction or control, according to published reports.

Freda said state officials told the town Aug. 4 about the financial issues facing the nursing home. He said the town had pushed the NJDOH and the nursing homeowners to let the residents and their families know about what had been going on.

Princeton officials and state Sen. Andrew Zwicker, whose legislative district includes Princeton, will meet to discuss what occurred and to make recommendations to the state to help families in the future, according to published reports.

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