Legislation sponsored by the Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee Chair Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-19th District, and Sen. Troy Singleton, D-7th District, that would require long-term care facilities to develop outbreak response plans, passed the Senate on June 27 by a vote of 37-0.
“The situation that spawned this bill is heartbreaking,” Vitale said. “When 11 children passed away at Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation last year, New Jersey was devastated. I wanted to do everything in my power to prevent this from happening again which included passing legislation that will require facilities to develop and maintain outbreak response plans. Implementing an outbreak response plan in case of emergency is good policy and even better practice. In the future, I hope no patient or family has to go through what the victims went through.”
The bill, S-3900, would require long-term care facilities to develop outbreak response plans within 180 days after the bill’s effective date. Long-term care facilities that provide care to ventilator-dependent residents would be required to submit their plans to the Department of Health.
A companion bill, A-5527, passed in the Assembly 74-0.
“Last fall, tragedy befell the families of eleven children who passed away during an Adenovirus outbreak at the Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation. During the outbreak, dozens more were infected too. This is inexcusable and incomprehensible,” Singleton said. “Long term care facilities must have proper response guidelines when outbreaks occur so that what happened last year can never, ever happen again, anywhere in New Jersey.”
The plans would be developed in consultation with the facilities’ infection control committees, as applicable, and would be facility-specific. The outbreak response plans would be required to follow national standards and would include protocols for isolating infected and at-risk residents until the cessation of the outbreak, policies regarding the notification of residents, families, visitors and staff in the event of an outbreak and information regarding the availability of laboratory testing.