(TRENTON) – To help ensure hospitals and other critical healthcare facilities get power back as soon as possible during an emergency, legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Gary S. Schaer, Angelica Jimenez, Benjie Wimberly, Raj Mukherji, Daniel Benson and Annette Quijano cleared the full Assembly Monday, 76-0.
“If any good came out of Sandy, it was the lessons we learned in the aftermath as we attempted to resume a sense of normalcy throughout our state,” said Schaer (D-Bergen/Passaic). “While hospitals are equipped with back-up generators, they can only last so long, making it imperative that we place a priority on getting these critical facilities back up and running as quickly as possible.”
Specifically, the bill (A-436) would require the Board of Public Utilities to adopt rules and regulations requiring electric public utility companies to give hospitals, assisted living facilities, nursing homes, chronic or acute renal dialysis facilities and research laboratories or institutes that store human blood or human DNA priority consideration for power restoration after an extended outage following a major event.
“Hospitals, assisted living facilities and nursing homes should be a priority for power restoration. With the proper foresight and planning before the next emergency, we can make this possible while still protecting the general safety of the public,” said Jimenez (D-Hudson/Bergen).
“Facilities that house the critically ill and those with sensitive health needs must be made a priority during prolonged power outages,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Someone who relies on oxygen support or blood transfusions or dialysis, simply cannot go days without power. It’s as simple as that.”
The bill requires the board to allow a utility to exercise its discretion to prioritize power restoration to any of the above facilities after an extended power outage in accordance with the facilities’ needs and with the characteristics of the geographic area in which power shall be restored.
“Our residents living in nursing homes, assisted living and medical facilities are the most vulnerable in a power outage,” said Mukherji (D-Hudson). “Restoring power for these residents should be at the top of the list.”
“A power outage is an inconvenience for any resident,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “For seniors and those who reside in a medical facility, a prolonged power outage can jeopardize health conditions. By putting them first in line for power restoration, we help to ensure access to the care their lives may depend on.”
“Superstorm Sandy left hundreds of residents without electrical power for many days,” said Quijano (D-Union). “Many had a hard time coping without power. I can’t imagine the struggle our nursing homes, assisted living and medical facilities went through even with a backup generator in place. This legislation does more to ensure our most vulnerable residents will have their power restored sooner rather than later.”
The bill will now head to the Senate for further consideratio.n