State Lawmakers Advance Bills to Protect Workers and Residents at Nursing Homes

Mary Mack, right, a resident of senior housing, is tested for Covid-19 in Paterson, N.J., Friday, May 8, 2020.

Mary Mack, right, a resident of senior housing, is tested for Covid-19 in Paterson, N.J., Friday, May 8, 2020. Associated Press

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Lawmakers in New Jersey last week moved legislation meant to curb Covid-19's spread in nursing homes and care facilities, including proposals to prioritize PPE and require increased wages for health workers.

New Jersey lawmakers last week advanced multiple pieces of legislation aimed at increasing safety in long-term care facilities, which are associated with more than 7,000 of the state’s nearly 16,000 confirmed Covid-19 fatalities.

The Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens committees in both the Senate and the Assembly approved seven bills apiece, addressing everything from personal protective equipment to hazard pay for employees at nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Many of those proposals incorporated recommendations from a June report commissioned by Gov. Phil Murphy that examined the response to the pandemic in the state’s care facilities, which supporters said provided a framework for improvements going forward.

“The fatal consequences of the Covid pandemic fell the hardest on nursing homes, veterans’ homes and other long-term care facilities that are home to our most vulnerable population of New Jersey’s residents,” Sen. Joe Cryan, a Democrat who sponsored or co-sponsored three of the bills, said in a statement. “There are hard lessons to be learned that we should use to be prepared for a possible second wave and to help prevent this from happening again. These proposals can begin the process of developing action plans to protect the health and the lives of employees and residents of long-term care facilities.”

The approved proposals included a plan to prioritize distribution of personal protective equipment from New Jersey’s stockpile directly to care facilities. As amended, the legislation would require that the state make as much equipment available as needed for workers at nursing homes, home health agencies, group homes and long-term care facilities during public health emergencies. 

That provision is necessary due to the “unique challenges” faced by those facilities, the legislation says, including “vulnerable patient populations” and physical layouts that can make it difficult to quarantine patients.

During Covid-19, “many facilities suffered from a lack of personal protective equipment, but the cost of personal protective equipment places an additional burden on an already financially constrained long-term care facility industry,” the bill says.

Both long-term care facilities and the state were criticized for the way Covid spread earlier in the pandemic, when New Jersey was one of the states hit particularly hard by the disease. The report commissioned by the state noted that New Jersey nursing homes, which employ 54,000 workers and are home to over 45,000 residents, had a history of failing to contain infection outbreaks and suffer from staffing shortages. But the report also criticized the state, saying agencies failed to provide "meaningful oversight" of homes and did not have a preparedness plan in place.

The PPE bill, approved unanimously by both the House and Assembly health committees, comes as New Jersey is adding to its stockpile of protective gear with the goal of having a “strong three-month supply” to help fortify hospitals and health-care workers in case of a second outbreak, Murphy said at a news briefing Friday.

As of last week, the state had 4.7 million N95 masks and 1 million surgical masks in stock, with 12 million more scheduled to be delivered within the next month. The warehouse also holds 1.7 million face shields, 1.9 million gloves (with an additional 75 million en route) and 2.1 million hospital gowns (and an extra 1 million on order).

“We cannot again find ourselves in the situation we were all in a few months ago, relying only on the federal government or on corporate and philanthropic partners,” Murphy said. “We need to have PPE at the ready and capable of being deployed at a moment’s notice.”

Other legislative proposals approved by committee members Friday include a plan to grant paid sick leave to employees at care facilities, a requirement that nursing homes make plans to prevent residents from becoming isolated and depressed and a bill to increase by $3 per hour the minimum wage for staff members who directly interact with residents. That proposal would also adjust the minimum wage each year to account for cost-of-living increases.

Kate Elizabeth Queram is a staff correspondent for Route Fifty and is based in Washington, D.C.

FEATURED CASE STUDIES
Powered By The Atlas
A large urban park creates a "connected" visitor experience with SMART.NODEs™
Sydney NSW, Australia
Community feedback increases 13x in Lancaster, PA with both offline and online engagement methods
Lancaster, PA, USA
Firefighters Use a Thermal Imaging Camera to Make a Lifesaving Grab
Palm Bay, FL, USA

NEXT STORY: Why Do Some People Get Infected by Coronavirus but Don't Get Sick?

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.