Hospitals, nursing homes will have to track COVID cases, death among its workforce under new N.J. law
Taken from NJ.com
By Susan K. Livio | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
February 5, 2021
The pandemic’s toll on the healthcare workforce — the number of nurses, doctors and other professionals sickened by and killed by the coronavirus — will be counted and publicly reported, under a law Gov. Phil Murphy signed on Thursday that was sought by a union that has been critical of inconsistent safety precautions on the front lines.
Hospitals, surgery centers, long-term care facilities and home healthcare agencies must collect the number of COVID-19 cases and fatalities among their employees and report them on a bimonthly basis to the state Department of Health. No later than 12 months after the COVID-19 public health emergency is declared over, the health department must compile a public report containing the findings, according to the legislation.
The legislation was necessary because health care facilities were not making the information available in real time, Debbie White, president of Health Professionals and Allied Employees, the union that represents 14,000 nurses in New Jersey.
“Front-line essential healthcare workers have been and continue to be exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace. Many HPAE members continue to struggle with long term effects of the virus after being exposed to the virus at work. Six that we know of have died,” White said in a statement Thursday.
“Getting accurate data on healthcare worker exposure and COVID illness is critical to understanding healthcare worker safety during a pandemic outbreak,” White’s statement said. “It is important that this information is not only collected, but also analyzed, to guide future policy in protecting those workers who are exposed and at-risk.
The bill (S2384) received widespread support in both houses of the state Legislature, passing without any votes in opposition. The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman William Spearman, D-Gloucester and Sen. Linda Greenstein, D-Middlesex.
There have been 633,0731 confirmed cases and 19,606 confirmed deaths related to the pandemic, according to the state health department COVID-19 data tracker. Additionally, there have been 75,386 probable cases and 2,187 probable deaths attributed to the coronavirus, so designated because there was not enough information in medical records to confirm the diagnosis.
Throughout the 11-month outbreak, have been reports of outbreaks among staff at some New Jersey hospitals, but public health departments and hospitals have declined to reveal number of employees affected.