COVID-19 Update: New Jersey Department of Health Releases Surgery Rules

With surgeries resuming May 26, the state’s Department of Health issued guidelines on the conditions for hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers to begin resuming elective surgeries.

“Hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers are encouraged to gradually resume full scope of services when possible and safe to do so consistent with the department’s guidance,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “This is an important step forward for individuals who are battling an illness or are dealing with chronic pain as these surgeries are vital to their health and well-being.”

Facilities shall establish a prioritization policy for providing care and scheduling of these procedures. Scheduling must be coordinated to promote social distancing: minimize time in waiting areas, stage appointment hours and post signs at entrances in appropriate languages about symptoms and precautions.

The Rules

Patients should be counseled to self-quarantine following testing until the day of surgery. Facilities must have a process to screen patients for COVID-19 symptoms prior to scheduled procedures. 

Facilities resuming elective services are required to:

  • Comply with state and CDC guidelines to protect against further spread of COVID-19
  • Institute screening of staff for symptoms and have policies in place for removal of symptomatic employees
  • Enforce social distancing requirements in work and common areas
  • Require masks for patients, expect patients receiving services that would not allow for masking
  • When possible non-COVID care zones should be used in facilities that serve both COVID-19 and non- COVID patients
  • Have an established plan for cleaning and disinfection prior to using facilities to serve non-COVID patients
  • Facilities should be prepared to modify resumptions of clinical services in conjunction with surge status and to repurpose and redeploy staff to urgent care roles to the extent feasible

Surgical Centers

Facilities must also have a plan for patient and staff use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The plan must implement PPE policies accounting for adequacy of available PPE, staff training on and optimized use of PPE and policies for the conservation of PPE.

Facilities must implement disinfection and cleaning protocols and cohort COVID-19 patients and non-COVID patients. No visitors should be allowed except for limited circumstances, which includes labor and delivery and pediatric patient surgery. 

Daily Data

As of May 25, the cumulative number of coronavirus cases in New Jersey reached 155,092 with 956 new cases and 16 new deaths, bringing that total to 11,144. 

Gov. Phil Murphy noted in a tweet the low number of deaths and new positive cases may be due to a delay in reporting over the holiday weekend.

Of the total deaths in North Jersey, Essex County has the most with 1,595, followed by Bergen with 1,525, Hudson at 1,137, Passaic at 891, Morris at 593, Sussex at 145 and Warren with 126.

State Testing 

Officials reported 2,755 patients are hospitalized with coronavirus while 212 patients were discharged. The north tier had 1,323 patients hospitalized, the central 776 and the south 656.

Of those hospitalized, 719 are in intensive care units and 540 on ventilators. There are currently 45 patients in field hospitals, with 465 treated overall. 

Hudson Tops County Count

Hudson has the most cumulative cases in the state with 18,051 followed by Bergen at 17,901, Essex at 17,202, Passaic at 15,774, Middlesex at 15,437, Union at 15,218, Ocean at 8,430, Monmouth at 7,865, Mercer at 6,491, Morris at 6,259, Camden at 6,103, Somerset at 4,480, Burlington at 4,355, Gloucester at 2,089, Atlantic at 2,028, Cumberland at 1,991, Warren at 1,132, Sussex at 1,084, Hunterdon at 966, Cape May at 570 and Salem at 566.

Another 1,110 cases are still under investigation to determine where the person resides.

Demographic Breakdown

The racial breakdown of the record deaths was 53% White, 19% Black, 19% Hispanic, 6% Asian and 3% another race. Murphy has noted the rates in the black and Hispanic communities are running about 50% more than their population in the state. 

In regards to the underlying disease of those who have passed, 59% had cardiovascular disease, 43% diabetes, 32% other chronic diseases, 17% neurological conditions, 15% chronic renal disease, 10% cancer and 14% other. 

A census of ages for 9,941 confirmed deaths shows 47% of deaths are of those 80 year old and up, 33% in the range of 65-80, 16% between 50-65 and 4% under the age of 49. 

Long-term Care Facilities

Health officials noted 536 long-term care facilities are reporting at least one case of COVID-19 and accounted for 30,452 of the cases, broken down between 20,771 residents and 9,681 staff. The state’s official death total will now be reported as those that are lab confirmed, which was 4,768 on May 25. The facilities are reporting to the state of 5,654 residents deaths and 101 staff deaths. 

In a by-county breakdown:  

Bergen County 

  • 63  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 3,020 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 1,451 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 890  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 10  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Essex County 

  • 46  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 2,007 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 834 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 531  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 19  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Morris County 

  • 42  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 1,286 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 589 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 442  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 3  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Passaic County 

  • 25  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 1,057 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 606 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 325  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 13  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Hudson County 

  • 15  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 712 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 388 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 184  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 7  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Warren County 

  • 7  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 401 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 112 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 106  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 1  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

Sussex County 

  • 5  Facilities with Outbreaks
  • 244 Total Resident Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 116 Total Staff Cases at Long Term Care Facilities 
  • 102  Resident Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities
  • 4  Staff Deaths reported by Long Term Care Facilities

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