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(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblyman Louis Greenwald and Assemblywoman Pamela R. Lampitt sponsored to institute a drug testing policy among all staff at state psychiatric hospitals is now law.

The measure, enacted over the weekend, was drafted in response to a series of uncovered shortcomings and abuses at Ancora Psychiatric Hospital.

“No patient deserves anything less than the best possible care provided by a staff that operates at the highest level,” said Greenwald (D-Camden). “Unfortunately, some at Ancora who desperately needed help were allowed to fall through the cracks. We owe them better.”

“Instead of a house of healing, Ancora all-too-often became a house of horrors,” said Lampitt (D-Camden). “The abuses and shortcomings that had been allowed to happen for far too long utterly failed the patients and families Ancora’s staff are supposed to help.”

The new law requires random drug testing among employees at both state psychiatric hospitals and veterans’ homes. Supervisors also are now empowered to order a drug test for any employee who shows signs of visible impairment. All new applicants for employment will be required to undergo a drug test as part of the vetting process.

“A drug-free workforce is in the best interests of patients and families,” said Lampitt. “We can’t undo the tragedies that already happened at Ancora, but we can patch the holes in the fabric that caused them.”

“If anything positive can be taken out of our experience with Ancora, it is reforms that are going to make staff more responsive and responsible and put patients in safer living conditions,” said Greenwald.

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