As the number of COVID-19 cases in New Jersey continues to climb and hospital emergency rooms are at—or above—capacity, state officials are looking for ways to bolster the amount of medical resources available during the coronavirus crisis.
On March 20, the state Attorney General’s Office and Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) announced the requirements for healthcare professionals licensed in states other than New Jersey would be waived on a temporary basis so they could practice in the Garden State.
Calling the outbreak an “unprecedented healthcare emergency,” Paul Rodriguez, acting director of the Division of Consumer Affairs, said officials are focused on maximizing “the amount of medical resources available.”
Returning College Students
“We are already seeing a need for such services with the sudden closure of college campuses across the country causing an influx of thousands of students coming home for an indefinite period, many of whom are under treatment by providers in other states,” said Rodriguez in a press statement. “With this temporary process, we are facilitating a continued relationship between those students and their out-of-state providers and reducing the risk of an interruption in their health care during this crisis.”
To be eligible for a waiver, healthcare professionals must hold an active license in good standing and practicing within the last five years.
Applications are available online and will be acted upon within 24 hours, according to the DCA. The waiver includes requirements for a criminal background check, payment of licensing fees and mandatory malpractice insurance coverage.
If granted, the temporary license will be valid for 180 days, with an additional 180-day extension available upon written request, and will allow practitioners to also provide telemedicine and telehealth services, the state said.
According to state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal, it will help “bring in necessary reinforcements so that New Jerseyans will continue to have access to world-class treatment to address COVID-19 and other essential healthcare needs.”
The waivers also complement legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy which makes it easier for healthcare professionals to offer remote services during the current public health emergency, the attorney general said.
The bill directs several state departments to boost commitment to telemedicine, approving mental health, behavioral health, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists to offer the service.
“As we continue to strengthen our health care system to meet the medical demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to telehealth and telemental health services for New Jerseyans will be more important than ever before. These actions will ensure that our most vulnerable residents have flexible access to vital health care services from the comfort and safety of their homes,” Murphy said.
As of March 26, there are 4,402 coronavirus cases in New Jersey and 62 deaths related to the virus, making it one of the hardest hit states in the country.
In hopes of curbing the outbreak, several statewide restrictions are in place, including a curfew and the shutdown of schools, gyms, casinos and dine-in restaurant services. Additionally, State officials are advising people to practice social distancing and stay home if they don’t feel well.