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Senate Panel Approves Codey Bill To Improve Patient Care At State Facilities For The Most Vulnerable

Bill Would Require Employee Drug Testing as Part of Package Designed to Improve Patient Safety, Strengthen Hiring & Training and Increase Oversight

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senate President Richard J. Codey that would require employee drug testing at state psychiatric hospitals, developmental centers and veterans’ memorial homes was approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. The bill, S2493, is part of a three-bill package designed to protect patient safety, strengthen hiring and training practices and increase oversight at state psychiatric hospitals.

“These hospitals are home to some of the state’s most vulnerable residents,” said Sen. Codey (D-Essex). “We need to ensure that they are in the care of staff that are appropriately trained and focused on their best interests. This bill is part of a broader approach that will help transform the way we care for the mentally ill and address a number of patient safety issues that have arisen at state-run facilities.”

Sen. Codey worked closely with the Public Advocate’s office in drafting these bills, in part, to address a number of injuries and deaths that had arisen recently at state facilities such as Ancora Psychiatric Hospital. The bill approved in committee today would require future employees of state psychiatric hospitals, developmental centers and veterans’ memorial homes to undergo drug testing for controlled dangerous substances as a condition of employment. Current employees at these facilities would be subject to future random drug testing.

The other two bills in the package – S2492 and S2493 – would strengthen education and training requirements for employees; and require that all deaths and assaults at state hospitals be reported to state authorities. The latter, S2493, was recently signed into law. S2492 is still awaiting final approval in each house.

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