TRENTON – Two separate pieces of legislation sponsored by Senator Joe Vitale, Senator Brian Stack and Senator Linda Greenstein aimed toward trying to improve the quality and oversight of New Jersey nursing homes cleared the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
The first bill, S-2894, (Senator Vitale and Senator Stack) provides for the establishment of “Mission-Critical Long-Term Care Teams, which would be responsible for identifying long-term care facilities for which strict oversight and/or direct intervention may be necessary to prevent the decline of health and safety at the facility or the disruption of necessary health care services that it should be providing.
“Residents living in nursing homes are among our most vulnerable friends, neighbors and relatives. Protecting these individuals, and promoting the health and well-being of both residents and staff working in nursing homes should be a continuing priority of our state and its public health services,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex), Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
“Breakdowns in quality of care in any of our nursing homes are just not acceptable,” said Senator Stack (D-Hudson). “If the COVID 19 pandemic taught us anything, it is that we make sure residents in these homes are treated with care, respect and humanity and that these facilities are maintained in a professional manner that provides for the safety of all residents, staff and visitors.”
The second bill, S-2891, (Senator Vitale and Senator Greenstein), would expand the scope of the Office of the State Long-Term Care Ombudsperson. Specifically, the bill would provide that the office of the ombudsman would oversee all long-term care facility residents, not just the elderly.
“Having a Long-Term Care Ombudsperson in place who will be a true advocate for our long-term care residents just makes good practical sense in the wake of what our state experienced during the COVID 19 pandemic,” said Senator Greenstein (D-Middlesex-Mercer). “Making that advocate available to all long-term residents, regardless of their age, is a wise and prudent action.”
The bills, S-2894 and S-2891, were advanced out of committee by votes of 10-0, and 10-0, respectively.