New Jersey bill would help protect LTC residents during infectious disease outbreaks

The New Jersey Assembly’s Aging and Senior Services Committee, on Thursday passed a bill “Sally’s Law,” that aims to provide nursing home residents greater protections during periods of infectious disease outbreak. The legislation is named for 99-year-old Sally Griscavage Florek who died in April 2020 in a Menham, NJ nursing home after she was treated in the hospital for a fall and released back to the nursing home despite testing positive for COVID-19.

“From nursing home admission policies that failed [during the COVID-19 pandemic] to separate sick residents, to fear and isolation, our most vulnerable seniors and their loved ones suffered immensely,” the bill’s sponsor, Assemblywoman Aura Dunn, said in a statement. “This law builds on unfortunate lessons learned during the pandemic and establishes uniform protections to ensure nursing home residents are always well cared for.” 

If the bill becomes law, nursing homes would be required to conduct regular staff testing, nursing homes to cohort residents, and maintain indoor visitation during outbreaks, providing proper infection control measures are followed. It also allows family members to appoint personal physicians to enter a facility and deliver direct care to a resident.

“The families of the more than 8,700 residents who died of Covid-19 while in long-term care facilities deserve to know that can never happen again,” Dunn said.

Republican state senators Joseph Pennacchio and Anthony M. Bucco introduced a  companion bill in the New Jersey state Senate. The senate version of “Sally’s Law” has been referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

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