Western New Jersey

Warren County nursing home: no new admissions

Freeholders cite employee attendance issues.

Warren Haven no longer accepting new residents

WARREN, N.J. - The Warren County Freeholders have named a five-person committee to oversee the plan to keep the nursing home county-owned.

On February 11th the Freeholders accepted an "aggressive agenda" to rescue Warren Haven from privatization that included appointing an administrator, negotiating with unions to cut back on labor costs and naming a committee to monitor the progression of this plan.

They achieved the latter of these by naming George Elsaesser, Victor Allen, Will Austin, Karen Kubert and Elizabeth Gittins.

Four appointees also served on the advisory committee that drafted the recommendations for Warren Haven's revival plan, with the exception of Gittins.

The committee will now be thrown into a complicated and uphill battle.

Warren Haven is currently facing an admission moratorium, opting not to take on any new residents.

At Wednesday's meeting the Freeholders passed the buck to nursing home officials saying that the decision was made to maintain the quality of care at the facility.

"It's not an administrative issue," said Freeholder Director Edward Smith. "We're not going to let [the situation] compromise the service."

"There is a certain amount of employees we need to have per resident," said Freeholder Jason Sarnoski.

Another reason for the moratorium is the continued increase in the number of employees calling off from their shifts.

According to Warren County Administrator, Steven Martin, the number of call-offs has increased by 20 percent in 2014, and continues to increase from month to month.

In 2013 Warren Haven issued over 90 disciplinary actions, 200 suspensions and laid off 18 employees to attempt to address these issues. Still the problem persists.

"It's a self-defeating issue," said Martin, talking about taking a punitive approach towards addressing the issue.

Martin also warned that if this trend continues, it may result into downsizing in patient capacity.

"We may have to start closing wings," he said.

Martin went on to say that if employees truly care about saving their workplace, they will start performing their duties more diligently, a comment which a frustrated audience in attendance took to task.

"I'm not sure that the true picture is being painted here," said one Warren Haven resident who asked to remain unnamed. "Numbers are one thing but the story is another."

The Warren County Freeholders will have their next meeting on March 26th.

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