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Sweeney Calls on Nursing Homes to ‘Follow the Law’ and Inform Caregivers of Coronavirus Cases

Trenton – Senate President Steve Sweeney today called on nursing home managers to “follow the law” and inform their direct care workers when a resident has the coronavirus, has tested positive, or has died from COVID-19.

Senator Sweeney said that New Jersey’s long-term care facilities should adhere to existing state and local infection disease protocols to ensure the protection of employees, patients, and the public during this health care crisis.

“At this critical time when we are all working to contain the spread of the coronavirus it is vital that facility managers follow the law by being fully transparent with their caregivers,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “These workers are putting their health and safety on the line to care for those in need. They deserve to be fully informed so they can protect themselves, their family members and others they come in contact with.”

According to state law, each skilled nursing facility is required to maintain clear policies for the notification of residents, residents’ families, visitors, and staff in the event of an outbreak of a contagious disease at a facility.

Workers at many of the facilities say they have not been fully informed about the infections of the residents in their care and have not been provided with all the support they need to protect themselves.

“I have heard disturbing accounts about poor communication by nursing home managers, inadequate supplies of PPE, a lack of training on infection prevention measures, and uncertainty about whether and how workers should get tested,” said Senator Sweeney. “These caregivers are on the frontlines in the midst of a contagious health crisis – they should be supported and protected in every way possible.”

Fifty-two of the state’s 355 coronavirus-related deaths as of Wednesday are associated with long-term care facilities, according to the New Jersey Department of Health. More than 80 nursing homes in the state reported positive cases of COVID-19 as of March 31, a number that will likely rise as the crisis enters a critical phase.