Bill To Require Development Of Outbreak Response Plan Clears Committee

Legislation sponsored by Senate Health, Human Services, and Senior Citizens Committee Chair Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-19th District, which would require long term care facilities to develop an outbreak response plan, cleared that committee on Monday.

Senate Bill 3900 would require long-term care facilities to develop outbreak response plans within 180 days of the effective date of the bill. Long-term care facilities that provide care to ventilator-dependent residents would be required to submit their plans to the Department of Health.

“The circumstances that spawned this legislation are heartbreaking,” said Vitale in a statement.

“When 11 children passed away at Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation last year, New Jersey was stunned. The only responsible way to react to a tragedy like this, however, is to take action that will prevent it from happening again. Mandating an outbreak response plan in case of emergency is smart policy and even smarter practice,” Vitale said.

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.

The bill is in response to an Adenovirus 7 outbreak at Wanaque Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation (Wanaque) in the fall of 2018. Eleven children passed away and dozens more were infected.

The bill was released from committee by a vote of 8-0.

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