The statement below is by Camden County Freeholder Director Louis Cappelli, Jr., regarding long-term care facilities in Camden County.
“The Camden County Health Department has been working day and night combating the novel coronavirus through several different initiatives. Last week the department took over random inspections of our 56 long-term care facilities (LTCs) from the state of New Jersey in order to audit and inspect operations that have at least 2 confirmed cases of COVID-19. At this juncture we have completed several inspections and the county Office of Emergency Management (OEM) has also delivered more than 100,000 pieces of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to these facilities. Everything from gowns, gloves, face masks, respirator and surgical masks to hand sanitizers have been dropped off.
Furthermore, yesterday, the county coordinated a conference call with most facility providers to have a candid conversation about their needs and procedures. Based on that call, the Freeholder Board offered the consolidated group co-op pricing for testing for residents and staff of these institutions. In concert with that effort, county administration provided logistical guidance that has been successful in our own operations – the Jail, Juvenile Detention, 911 Dispatch Center – and access to our OEM for additional PPE orders.
Another challenge these operations are facing based on our initial inspections is staffing. The county will be investigating the opportunity to close the gap through our one-stop and work force investment board.
In addition, the state Department of Health has commissioned Cooper University Healthcare to conduct testing of all patients and staff within South Jersey long term facilities. Our understanding is that at least three Camden County operations will be the first recipients of this testing regiment in order to identify challenges and provide more data for smart interventions.
We are horrified by the loss of life that has occurred in these institutions and will be working with them to confront the spread of the virus head on. As it stands today, the Camden County Medical Examiner has certified that we have lost 59 residents in our LTCs since the start of the pandemic, a number that is unacceptable and cannot continue to grow. These facilities also have a combined 352 cases amongst the residents and staff.
What we are finding are many of these facilities across the board were severely underprepared for the outbreak and in many ways have suffered like so many other segments of the health care system. It’s clear through our initial audits these facilities have a lack of testing, or no testing at all, a shortage of PPEs and staffing shortfalls across the board.
Moving forward, the county will now provide daily updates on COVID-19 confirmed cases of staff and residents, and deaths in our long-term care facilities. The spread of this insidious virus is hard to stop in these high-density facilities, but the county health team will go above and beyond to strengthen LTCs and make them safer.”