Trenton – In response to the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in health care facilities across the state during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Senate approved legislation today sponsored by Senators Patrick Diegnan, Vin Gopal and Joseph Vitale that would ensure health facilities have PPE readily available in the event of a future public health emergency.
The bill, S-2566/2677, would require long-term care facilities and hospitals to maintain a minimum supply of PPE at all times.
“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has accounted for a disproportionate amount of deaths in long-term care facilities,” said Senator Diegnan (D-Middlesex). “It is evident that our nursing homes did not have adequate PPE available to protect our elderly citizens, and going forward we must ensure that we are doing all we can to save lives in the event for a future health crisis.”
Under the bill, a nursing home would be required to maintain a supply of PPE that is sufficient to last 30 or 60 days, depending on if the facility is part of a larger system. Hospitals would be required to have a minimum supply that would last 90 days.
“Going into the pandemic, it was expected that the death rate for the virus would be the highest among older, more vulnerable populations,” said Senator Gopal (D-Monmouth). “And yet, there was still not enough protections put in place for these populations, putting them more at risk for infection. By maintaining a minimum amount of PPE in nursing home at all times, we will be better prepared when we need it.”
“Many facilities suffered from a lack of PPE due to inflated prices and international supply shortages,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “We understand this difficulty, so we have assembled a PPE Wholesale Supplier Registry Public Listing. Our hope is that nursing homes and hospitals will have an easier time locating the supplies they need in times of crises.”
The bill cleared the Senate by vote of 33-0.