MORRIS COUNTY — Senator Joe Pennacchio has obtained a letter sent by the New Jersey Department of Health dated March 31 directing hospitals and nursing care facilities not to inhibit the transfer of hospital patients with COVID-19 entering post-acute care settings such as long-term nursing and rehabilitation facilities.
The letter also states “post-acute care facilities are prohibited from requiring a hospitalized patient/resident who is determined medically stable to be tested for COVID-19 prior to admission or readmission. (Click here for letter)
“New Jersey has continually cited testing as a way to identify and respond to COVID-19. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense that we would specifically not want to test patients who would enter isolated nursing homes containing our most vulnerable population,” said Pennacchio (R-Morris, Essex, Passaic).
Senator Pennacchio criticized the administration for taking extra care of prisoners before they became COVID-infected by releasing them from prisons yet forcing nursing facilities to accept patients with COVID, then locking the doors.
The Senator pointed to initial warnings that the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. started with an outbreak and multiple deaths in a Washington State nursing facility.
“Applying science and reason, one would surmise that releasing a highly contagious pathogen in an isolated and vulnerable location, like a nursing home, could have devastating effects, and it did,” added Pennacchio.
The Department of Health cites Executive Order No. 103 signed by Governor Murphy on March 3. New Jersey is the number one state in the union with 50% of its COVID-19 deaths occurring in long term nursing facilities. (Click here for Executive Order 103)
“The State of New Jersey has direct regulatory oversight over these nursing facilities. Although the population of nursing homes makes up less than 0.7% of the Garden State’s population, the 4,151 deaths in these facilities account for half of all New Jersey’s COVID-19 deaths,” concluded Senator Pennacchio.