Bergen County health center permanently closing due to COVID

The Bergen County Health Care Center in Rockleigh, a 110-bed nursing home, will close permanently at the end of this year, the county announced Friday.

Faced with the same trends that are pummeling private long-term care facilities, the county plans to consolidate its in-patient services at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, County administrators stressed their efforts to ensure a smooth transition for residents and staff. 

The Rockleigh center currently is less than half full, with 46 residents. It has not admitted any new residents since the COVID-19 pandemic began, a precautionary policy adopted to protect the health of its residents.

“With diminishing census but fixed overhead, operation of the facility has become less cost-effective,” an announcement from the county said. Prior to the pandemic, the number of residents had been declining for years due to the trend toward home- and community-based services for the elderly and disabled.

The Bergen County Health Care Center in Rockleigh, a 110-bed skilled nursing facility owned and operated by Bergen County, is shown in this 2005 file photo.

Other issues cited by the county were inadequate levels of reimbursement and the need for capital improvements that would disrupt operations for many months. 

The long-term care industry, particularly its nonprofit sector, has been in crisis during the pandemic. Nursing home residents accounted for 40% of the COVID deaths in New Jersey. Reduced revenues combined with higher expenditures have increased financial pressures, leading experts to predict a wave of closures across the country.