Experts will conduct review of NJ’s long-term care facilities

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that experts with national experience have been selected to conduct a rapid review of the state’s 575 long-term care facilities to slow the spread of COVID-19 and reduce the impacts of future outbreaks.

The team will produce a set of recommendations for the New Jersey Department of Health and long-term care facilities, as well as advise officials on potential state or federal actions to improve quality, safety, and resilience within New Jersey’s long-term care system. The recommendations will guide how long-term care facilities can safely reopen for residents and staff after the current COVID-19 outbreak and address mitigation, protection, and resiliency against future outbreaks. The New Jersey Department of Health will continue implementing protocols, inspections, and testing at all long-term care facilities while this review takes place

“New Jersey has tragically lost many lives to COVID-19, with half of our statewide deaths of individuals within the long-term care system,” Murphy said. We have seen COVID-19 ravage long-term care facilities nationwide as this virus poses a unique threat to our most vulnerable populations. The solutions we find here in New Jersey will protect both residents and staff in the long-term care system and serve as a national model for mitigation, protection, and resiliency against future outbreaks.”

The team of experts will be led by Cindy Mann, a 30-year expert in federal and state health policy who ran Medicaid in the Obama Administration as former deputy administrator at the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and Carol Raphael, former CEO and president of the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, as well as the former board chair of AARP.

“In New Jersey and across the nation, COVID-19 has devastated our long-term care facilities,” said New Jersey Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “We’ve delivered 10.7 million in PPE, inspected 60 facilities, curtailed admission at several homes, sent federal Veterans Administration staff into veteran’s homes and issued 18 guidance documents curtailing visitation and requiring monitoring of residents for respiratory symptoms. Now, we are testing residents and staff statewide. We look forward to working with this team of experts to ensure that we can do everything possible to protect our most vulnerable population.”