Governor Phil Murphy delivers his Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Address in Trenton on February 25, 2020 (Edwin J. Torres for Governor’s Office).

State Senate President Steve Sweeney Shares Plan for Infection Controls at New Jersey Nursing Homes

New Jersey would develop an infection prevention and control plan for the state’s nursing homes under legislation authorized by State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3).

The proposal comes as the first positive COVID-19 case in several months at the state-run New Jersey Veteran Home at Paramus, where 89 residents and one staff member died earlier this year from the coronavirus.

Under the legislation, the state would conduct an assessment of current safety protocols in order to find upgrades needed for the system. Additionally, a companion bill would have the state’s health officials develop an infectious disease instructional program for Garden State long-term care (LTC) facilities.

Statewide Assessment

“We need a long-term strategy to ensure the nursing home industry in New Jersey is focused on the safety of residents and caregivers and the quality of services the facilities provide,” said Sweeney in a press statement. “This strategy should include design and construction standards for new facilities and for those undergoing significant modifications. The infrastructure has to promote and facilitate safe conditions so the practices and procedures are effective.”

The New Jersey Department of Health would be responsible for conducting the statewide assessment of nursing home safety protocols. With the findings, they would be tasked with developing a plan to could prevent, control, and limit the spread of infectious diseases.

The plan would comb through safety plans present in other states in order to establish specific goals. These goals would be variable depending on the age of facilities, availability for land expansion, and other improvements.

Companion Bill

Nursing home industry officials would also be approached for expert opinion. The plan would be due no later than 180 days after completition of the assessment.

The Health Department and the Board of Nursing would be tasked with developing an infection prevention course designed for nursing homes and LTC facilities.

The bill would review the nursing curriculum currently available and find ways to encourage nurses to attend post-acute care residency programs if their studies qualified them for the work.

“This will incorporate more infection control training into the education of nurses and nurse’s aides who work in post-acute and long-term care facilities,” said Sweeney. “It will also create a more robust pipeline of these caregivers to go into and remain in the long-term care industry.”

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