(TRENTON) – To ensure long-term care facilities have appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to respond to COVID-19, a bill to dedicate a percentage of New Jersey’s stockpile to long-term care centers during public health emergencies passed the full Assembly on Thursday by a vote of 72-0.
The measure (A-4485), sponsored by Assembly Democrats Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), Majority Leader Lou Greenwald (D-Camden, Burlington) and Benjie Wimberly (D-Bergen, Passaic) and Assembly Republican Diane Gove (R-Atlantic, Burlington, Ocean) would require the New Jersey Commissioner of Health, in consultation with the New Jersey Director of the State Office of Emergency Management, to establish a formula or other methodology for determining the percentage allocation of PPE based on the nature of the emergency, total number of patients, statewide demand for PPE, and average burn rate of PPE, taking into account nominal consumption rates as well as surges in consumption rates. PPE would also be made available to hospice care providers, health care service firms, home health agencies, some community-based providers and the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).
The bill’s sponsors released the following joint statement:
“Healthcare workers use PPE every day to protect the health of patients and themselves. PPE has become even more essential in a COVID-19 reality.
“At the start of the pandemic, there were shortages of PPE across the country, including in New Jersey. Our state’s response placed great emphasis on supporting hospitals, and they were prioritized for PPE distribution. Unfortunately, long-term care facilities did not receive the number of supplies they needed.
“With the fall flu season upon us, it’s critical that we ensure adequate PPE is distributed to long-term care facilities. PPE is one of our best defenses in the fight against COVID-19, and it will be integral to keeping healthcare staff and residents safe should we face another wave of the virus.”