TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Fred H. Madden (D-Gloucester/Camden) that would extend the work of the New Jersey Epilepsy Task Force for another year and add representation for school nurses was signed into law today.
“Patients living with epilepsy and other seizure disorders suffer from psychological and social stigmas that go far beyond their physical ailments. While there have been notable advancements in medical research, more needs to be done to increase public awareness about this chronic condition,” said Madden, Vice-Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “This law will allow the task force to continue their important work in examining strategies to improve the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy. With the addition of a representative from the School Nurses Association, the task force will be able to come up with recommendations that reflect the voices of many different players in the healthcare community.”
The law, S-2353, authorizes the task force to carry on its work for one additional year and add one new member to the task force, representing the New Jersey State School Nurses Association.
Further, the law directs the task force to issue two reports with its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the Legislature. Under provisions of the legislation, the interim report must be issued no later than 12 months after the initial meeting of the task force, and the final report must be issued within 12 months of the initial report. The reports will include proposals to address the psychosocial issues faced by persons with epilepsy, such as depression, stigmatization, and discrimination, along with bills that the task force recommends for adoption by the Legislature.
Epilepsy is the medical term used to describe a pattern of recurring seizures where an individual has no way of controlling bodily functions or unusual behavior. About 2.7 million Americans have epilepsy, with 30% of that population being children under the age of 18. According to the Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey, one in 10 people will have a seizure in their lifetime, and this year another 200,000 people in the U.S. will be diagnosed with epilepsy.
Senator Madden has been a longtime advocate for raising public awareness of epilepsy and other chronic diseases. He authored the legislation that created the New Jersey Epilepsy Task Force in 2010, and was the recipient of the Legislator of the Year Award by The Epilepsy Foundation of New Jersey, also in 2010.
The law was unanimously approved by the Senate last December and the General Assembly in April. The legislation goes into effect immediately.