Mayor Mark Freda: Princeton Care Center situation was avoidable

Princeton Mayor Mark Freda said Saturday that while the closure of the Princeton Care Center, the only long-term care facility in the municipality, may not have been avoidable, the shock and chaos of the abrupt closure that caught residents and their loved ones off guard Friday could and should have been prevented.

Princeton Care Center is located on Bunn Drive. On Friday, families were given until the end of the day to find other facilities for their loved ones. They were not given any notice. Some received calls from staff Friday morning, while others learned from their loved ones living at the facility that they had to move that day. The closure affected 72 residents. Staff members said they were not paid Thursday and were owed two weeks’ pay.

The family-owned facility had been having financial problems for at least several months. In early August, the New Jersey Department of Health contacted municipal officials about the facility. Freda and Sen. Andrew Zwicker had numerous exchanges with the state about Princeton Care Center, Freda said. The municipality has no jurisdiction over the facility.

“Sen. Zwicker and I were blunt with them about the situation. We had been saying to them strongly that there needs to be a plan in place for if and when this place fails so there wouldn’t be chaos. And there was. The state said it is not their responsibility,” Freda said. “We had said numerous times throughout the month that there should be a mandate that the facility notify people of the problems there and let them know of the possibility that the facility could close. The state said there is no requirement until the milestone is hit. We said let’s figure all this stuff out with ambulances and buses and create a detailed plan, but the Department of Health didn’t feel it should be doing anything ahead of time.”

Freda said representatives from the New Jersey Department of Health told local officials the state’s responsibility is to make sure long-term care facilities are providing residents with proper care and services, and that state officials would monitor the transition if and when the facility failed.

Planet Princeton has reached out to the New Jersey Department of Health for comment.

Freda lamented the chaos and stress endured by families and residents. “What could be worse than telling everyone on the Friday afternoon of a holiday weekend that they are being moved?” he said.

All long-term care facilities in the state are required to have an emergency evacuation plan. Other facilities where residents can be moved to are designated in the evacuation plan. Freda said the state was notified at 11 p.m. on Thursday that Princeton Care Center had activated its emergency evacuation plan. Municipal officials found out on Friday morning.

Freda said Princeton Administrator Bernard Hvozdovic Jr. spent most of the day and evening at the facility, as did Princeton Director of Health Jeff Grosser. “People from the health department, fire department, and fire inspection department were heavily involved,” Freda said. “Without the help of Sen. Zwicker and our staff, the situation would have been much worse on Friday. Our fire department went out and got boxes for people and did all kinds of stuff.”

Freda said the last resident was moved at about 11:30 p.m.


  1. One important note that I have not seen published is that the staff that did stay to help residents have not been paid for 3 weeks and there is no sign of receiving their pay ever. Ezra Bogner, a facade of an administrator, has cheated the staff without seemingly zero consequence.

    1. If Zwicker and Freda knew about this why not let residents and their families know? What about the labor violations ? Why aren’t our state and local politicians doing this given the Public relations contracted people have gotten in the town?Zwicker is up for re election. His people are knocking on our doors all the time for our votes but when it comes time to stand up to the university and others who have PILOTs and on these other issues these politicians are nowhere to be found.

  2. As a person that worked for Princeton Care Center. I just want the world to know that that there is a lot more to this story that no one truly knows. Ezra Bogner should be investigated along with his director of nursing Jennifer Smalls. The director of nursing took a month long Vacation in the middle of a crisis and how this was allowed in accordance to when the building was closed is very suspicious. How no one is deeply looking into this is ridiculous.

  3. Local authorities knew in early August about the dire situation at the Princeton Care Center and said nothing. The center was a state regulated facility yet the highest elected state official in Princeton Sen. Andrew Zwicker said nothing. This shameful event happened on his watch. Mark Freda of all people is running interference for Zwicker. Have the family owners of the care center, the Bogners, or their nursing home lobby made contributions to Zwicker?

  4. Thank God they are shut down. That place was disgusting. My mother screamed in pain and they did nothing but blame her. Emergency surgery and found out her hip had been broken for 3 weeks. It was filthy also. There are so many more facilities in NJ that need to be shut down. It’s horrible how they neglect the elderly.

  5. As with other NJ skilled nursing home closures, the staff, patients and families are the last to know. Arrangements for the residents were made by whom? Did they go to facilities that were chosen by their families? I left the field because of the closures that I had witnessed – it was quite difficult to move residents to places near their homes, especially with other administrators and SNF admissions representatives vying for residents.

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