Sweeney, Vitale Bill to Incorporate Additional Infection Control Training for Long-term Care Nurses and Nurse Aides Clears Senate

Trenton –In an effort to improve infection prevention and control responses in nursing homes, the Senate yesterday passed legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Joseph Vitale which would require the Board of Nursing to review the current requirements for a nursing degree and make modifications to incorporate additional infection prevention courses and training on post-acute care.

“During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, nursing homes suffered a deadly toll, with 43 percent of all COVID-19 deaths across the country through June occurring at just nursing homes,” said Senator Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Salem/Cumberland). “It has become increasingly evident that we are overdue for a long-term strategy to ensure that our state’s nursing homes are focused on the safety of residents and caregivers. By providing additional education to nurses and nurse aides, we will be able to deliver the best care for our senior citizens while keeping their health and safety a top priority.”

The bill, S-3031, would require the Board of Nursing to review the current nursing curriculum and clinical experience requirements and incorporate the Nursing Home Infection Preventionist Training Course offered through the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), or a successor course. As part of the review, the board would also be authorized to make or recommend additional modifications to the curriculum, as they deem appropriate, to ensure that licensed practical nurses and registered nurses receive adequate training on post-acute care.

“Senior citizens are already at high risk of succumbing to COVID-19, so it is imperative we take the appropriate measures to ensure our long-term care facilities provide a safe and sanitary environment for our older population,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex), Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Nurses and nurse aides are the backbone of the post-acute-care industry, and it is important that we work to guarantee that they are fully prepared to deal with any future public health emergencies that may lead to an outbreak within nursing homes.”

Under the bill, the Department of Health would also review the curriculum and clinical experience for the certification of certified nurse aides and may require them to complete any appropriate portions of the Nursing Home Infection Preventionist Training Course, or a similar course offered through the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology.

Further, the bill would require the Department of Health, in partnership with one or more long-term care facilities and representatives from labor organizations to establish a pilot program to develop standards for the professional advancement of certified nurse aides.

The bill was approved by the Senate by a vote 38-0.